In the past 20 years, the number of billionaires has surged.

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Editor’s note: Using big data to analyze certain groups of people is not new, the author of this article Dasha Metropolitansky studied trends in the number, geographic distribution, source of wealth and net worth of billionaires. She pointed out that in the past 20 years, the number of billionaires has soared, the number of Asian rich people has increased, and the United States has been leading the world. In terms of net assets, rich people in developed countries are richer than those in developing countries. The financial industry is the industry that makes the most wealth. Original title What Data Tells Us About the World’s Wealthiest.

In Harvard’s first spring semester, I took a course called “Using Big Data to Solve Economic and Social Problems.” One of the most interesting topics on the topics we explore is equal opportunity in the United States. We understand that children’s chances of earning more than their parents are inconsistent: it depends on their race, gender and place of growth.

The main content of this course is to study the data of low-income people and analyze the results. And I am very curious about the other extreme: I want to see the trends of the world’s wealthiest people in terms of quantity, location, source of wealth and net worth.

Data tells you: What are the characteristics of billionaires in the world?

Source: “Forbes

I found the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PeterA data set created by researchers at the Son Institute of International Economics (PIIE), which used data from the Forbes Global Billionaires List from 1996 to 2016. PIIE researchers said:

Data from 1996 to 2010 includes the names, rankings, nationalities, and net worth of global billionaires. Data from 2011 has increased the source of wealth, with a list of specific companies or a wider range of industries.

The PIIE researchers added several variables to Forbes data: the age of the billionaire, the net worth of 1996 (taking into account inflation), the GDP of their country, and the level of economic development.

In addition to the three-digit country code already in the original dataset, I created variables for continents and country names.

The following is my discovery.

The number of billionaires has quadrupled over the past 20 years

Data tells you: What are the characteristics of billionaires in the world?

Image content: Number of billionaires in the world (1996-2016)

Obviously, from 1996 to 2016, the number of billionaires around the world has soared (more precisely, by 396%). But the trajectory of growth is not a straight line: growth was almost stagnant before 2000, and negative growth occurred immediately after the Internet bubble burst in 2001 and the 2008 financial crisis, especially in the latter.

The United States has always been the country with the largest number of billionaires (and regions)

Data tells you: What are the characteristics of billionaires in the world?

Image content: Top 10 countries (and regions) with billionaire rankings

This picture shows the ten largest number of billionaires between 1996 and 2016.Country (and region) ranking. The most striking finding is that during the entire statistical cycle, the United States has not surprisingly maintained the title of “the country with the most billionaires (and regions)”, even considering the difference in population size, the United States billion The number of millionaires is also much larger than the few countries (and regions) that follow. In addition to the accidents of 1999 and 2000, the number of billionaires in the United States is at least 2.5 times that of other countries. However, this gap is slowly narrowing. It is clear that China is catching up with the United States: China was listed for the first time in 2008 (ranked 5th) and has been ranked second since 2013.

There are a lot of interesting observations about this list:

  • The total number of countries (and regions) on the list is 19.

  • Since 1997, the only countries (and regions) that are listed each year are the United States, Germany, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom.

  • This ranking reflects the gradual decline of the Japanese economy: Japan had been in the top five before 2006, and then fell to the second half of the list for several consecutive years, falling out of the list in 2011.

  • Since 2005, India has been at the top of the list (usually in the 4th to 6th).

  • Russia has been in the top five since 2003, although the number of Russian billionaires has fallen sharply since the United States and the European Union imposed sanctions on them in 2014.

  • Because of my personal interests (and pride), I would like to point out that Canada has been on the list almost every year since 1999.

Asia’s billionaires are growing fastest

Data tells you: What are the characteristics of billionaires in the world?

Image Content: Number of billionaires on all continents (1996-2016)

The two fastest growing numbers of billionaires are Asia and the Americas. In terms of time, the fastest growth is after 2008. Interestingly, before 2000, the number of billionaires in the Americas and Europe was not much different, but after 2000, the number of billionaires in the two countries suddenly showed significant differences. Since then, their growth volatility has been similar, but the Americas are still significantly higher than others.

equally amazingYes, although Africa has achieved tremendous economic growth over the past 20 years, the number of African billionaires has been small.

Billionaires in developed countries are richer than billionaires in developing countries

Data tells you: What are the characteristics of billionaires in the world?

Image content: Comparison of total net assets of billionaires in developed and developing countries

After 2003, billionaires’ total net worth surged, especially in emerging economies, almost exponentially. Until the financial crisis broke out in 2008, this figure dropped sharply. However, after 2010, billionaires are gradually recovering, and their net worth begins to grow again, despite the slowdown in the growth of billionaire assets from developing countries.

Since 2000, more than 25% of billionaires worldwide have wealth from the financial industry

Data tells you: What are the characteristics of billionaires in the world?

Image Content: Percentage of Billionaires in Different Industries

This data set divides billionaires’ wealth sources into the following six categories:

Resource industry: energy (excluding solar and wind energy) mining, metallurgy, etc.;

New Technology Industry: Computer Technology, Software, Medical Technology, Solar and Wind Energy, Pharmaceuticals, etc.;

Non-trade industry: retail, entertainment, media, telecommunications, construction, catering and other services;

Financial Industry: Banking, Insurance, Hedge Funds, Private Equity, Venture Capital, Investment, Diversified Wealth, Real Estate, etc.;

Trade Industry: Agriculture, Consumer Goods, Shipping, Manufacturing, etc.;

Other Industries: Education, engineering, sports infrastructure ownership, and other wealth that cannot be classified.

Despite the wealth of most billionairesIt has mainly come from the financial industry, but since its peak in 2008, this proportion has been steadily declining. On the other hand, since 2008, the proportion of billionaires from the “new technology industry” and the trade industry has continued to rise.

Imperfect data set

It should be noted that this data set is not perfect. PIIE researchers point out some of its flaws:

missing data

The number of billionaires reported may differ from the actual number of billionaires in the world, as some billionaires may be more willing to keep their wealth secrets…

Many private companies may be overlooked, at least until the news of the company’s listing or the death of the founder.

There are still a class of people who are not on the list: illegal sources of income, including corrupt government officials and drug lords.

Report of inconsistent samples

Another shortcoming of Forbes’ dataset is that it reports inconsistent reports on the wealth of some samples. In 1996 and 2001-14, billionaires only referred to individuals unless ‘the division of ownership between brothers and sisters was unclear’… However, from 1997 to 2000, the list was based on households for billionaires. Summary.

Because of these shortcomings, my analysis underestimated the number of billionaires and their total net worth, so some countries and regions have less accurate results.

The other flaw is that some of the analysis I’ve done points to misleading results because the data quality is not high enough, so I chose to delete the analysis. For example, the graph of the average age or age of billionaires over time is inaccurate because a large percentage of billionaires are incorrectly listed as 0 years old (at least I think this is not true… ), or, their age is missing in the data set.

I would like to draw another chart showing the number of new billionaires added each year. But as the current billionaires are unlikely to disappear from the list in the next few years, this number is exaggerated. However, as PIIE researchers point out, those who get wealth from private companies will only be listed if Forbes finds any data about their net worth (for example, only when the company goes public) This data will be made public when the founder dies and someone inherits their wealth.) This means that some billionaires are on the list for the first time in a few nights before they actually become billionaires, leading to inaccurate statistics on the “new billionaires”.

About the billionaires in the world, we still have a lot to know. I am curious, what happened to the distribution of gender and age over time.Change is that there are more billionaires who start from scratch, or the successors of more wealth. Hopefully as the data increases, we can start to answer these and more questions.

You can RPubs post and Github repo.

The PIIE study I quoted in this article is a collaboration between Caroline Freund and Sarah Oliver entitled “The Origins of Super Rich: The Billionaire Character Database” Paper.

Translator: Xitang