Number of Billionaires Around the World Rises 13% in 2017


A record 2,043 billionaires made Forbes’ 31st annual ranking of the world’s billionaires, as featured in the March 28, 2017 issue of Forbes magazine.

“Booming stock markets, higher commodities prices and plain old-fashioned entrepreneurship helped make this a record year in terms of wealth creation around the globe,” said Luisa Kroll and Kerry Dolan, Assistant Managing Editors of Wealth at Forbes Media.

Bill Gates remains in the top spot for the fourth year in a row and has been the richest person in the world for 18 out of the past 23 years. Gates has a fortune of $86 billion, up from $75 billion last year. Warren Buffett, worth $75.6 billion, up from $60.8 billion in 2016, reclaimed the No. 2 slot, after a two-year hiatus. The biggest gainer on the 2017 list is Jeff Bezos (No. 3), whose fortune increased by $27.6 billion for a total net worth of $72.8 billion. This is Bezos’ first time in the top three.  Spanish clothing retailer Amancio Ortega (best known for the Zara fashion chain) drops to No. 4, despite his net worth increasing to $71.3 billion. Rounding out the top five is Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, worth $56 billion.

  • 2,043 billionaires (up from 1,810 in 2016) made the list, with an average net worth of $3.75 billion.
  • The change in the total number of billionaires – up 233 since last year – was the biggest increase in 31 years.
  • The total combined net worth of this year’s billionaires was $7.67 trillion, up from $6.48 trillion last year.
  • 1,371 members were self-made billionaires. 238 inherited their wealth; another 434 inherited at least a portion but are still growing it.

Key Highlights from Forbes’ 2017 World’s Billionaires list:


  • The total number of women on the list is 227, up from 202 in 2016. A record 56 of those women are self-made billionaires; an all-time high of 25% of the world’s women billionaires are self-made, compared to 21% in 2016.
  • The richest self-made woman is Hong Kong’s Zhou Qunfei, whose Lens Technology went public in 2015.

The U.S. boasts the most women billionaires on the 2017 list, with 74, followed by Germany with 28 and China with 23 (10 more than a year ago).  These numbers include 5 women in the U.S. who have built companies with their husbands (with whom they are listed), and 1 woman in Germany who shares an inherited fortune with her brother-in-law.


  • This year 195 billionaires were new to the list, down from the 198 newcomers in 2016.
  • China had the most newcomers, adding 76 to the list. 25 newcomers were from the U.S., 13 from India and 5 from Germany.
  • Notable newcomers included Vietnam’s first self-made woman billionaire, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, who took her budget airline, VietJet Air, public in February 2017. Also new to the list is Japan’s first self-made woman billionaire, Yoshiko Shinohara, who started a part-time staffing firm from her one-bedroom Tokyo apartment to help women get into the workforce. She debuts thanks to a 50% surge in the stock price of her company, Temp Holdings, in the past year.
  • Other notable newcomers to the list include: Australian Manny Stul, whose toy company created the popular Shopkins collectibles; American Yvon Chouinard, the founder of outdoor gear maker Patagonia; and Juan Francisco Beckmann Vidal of Mexico, who is chairman of tequila maker Jose Cuervo.
  • 56 billionaires are under 40 this year, down from 66 in 2016.
  • Altogether, 78 people dropped out of the rankings, a significant decrease from 2016’s 221 drop-offs.

By Country

  • Regionally, Asia-Pacific boasted the most billionaires, with 720 billionaires, followed by the United States with 565 and Europe with 530.
  • By country, the U.S. led with the greatest number of billionaires, with 565, followed by mainland China with 319, Germany with 114, India with 101 and Russia with 96. California alone has 140 billionaires, more than any country besides the U.S. and China.
  • The United Kingdom has 54 billionaires, versus 50 in 2016; this year there are 5 U.K. newcomers, including Philip Day, 51-year-old fashion mogul who runs Edinburgh Woolen Mill.
  • There are billionaires from 71 countries and territories this year, compared to 67 last year. Returning to the list are Kuwait, St. Kitts & Nevis and Macau.
  • Wealth is stretching to new corners of the world, with one new country, Slovakia, represented on the list.

Top 20

The Top 20 billionaires have a combined net worth of $938.4 billion, up from $826.5 billion in 2016.


Forbes’ World’s Billionaires list is a snapshot of wealth taken on February 17, 2017, when stock prices and exchange rates were locked in from around the world. The list features individuals rather than multigenerational families who share large fortunes. In some cases, siblings and couples are listed together if the ownership breakdown among them isn’t clear; however, they still must be worth on average a minimum of $1 billion apiece to make the cut.

To view the list, visit

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