Young billionaires often dominate headlines, but the truth about wealth is that it often takes time, and many are past the average retirement age.
- While entrepreneurs under age 60, like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, are among the most well-known billionaires, most of the world’s wealthiest are much older.
- The median age of a billionaire is around 67 years old, according to a recent report from data firm Altrata.
- Of the 3,194 billionaires worldwide, around 42% are over 70 years old, and fewer than 10% are under 50, CNBC reports.
- While tech wizzes and sports celebrities may frequent headlines as up-and-coming billionaires, the report’s findings indicate that the reality of wealth is that it takes time.
Why it’s news
Many entrepreneurs may dream of building a billion-dollar empire overnight, but the data shows that those who become billionaires in just a few years are among the minority. Legends like Warren Buffett and Bernard Arnault have spent a lifetime building a legacy of wealth. Often, massive wealth takes generations to build.
Not only are young billionaires in the minority, but the report shows that they are becoming increasingly uncommon, and it is taking longer for individuals to reach billionaire status.
“Many of the younger billionaires have made their wealth in tech, which has been a fast wealth-creation industry and gets a lot of media attention,” head of leadership and analytics at Altrata Maya Imberg says. “But most wealth takes a long time to accumulate unless it’s inherited. It takes a vast majority of their business lives to create that amount of wealth.”
Tech is still a relatively new industry, and the early players were able to make moves that catapulted them toward the top. However, with more leaders in the tech world, finding the sweet spot to move swiftly to massive wealth is increasingly difficult. Future tech billionaires will have to be patient.
A billionaire’s age can also give a clue as to where he accumulated his wealth. Billionaires under 50 come from tech, banking, or finance backgrounds. Those between 50 and 70 made their wealth from banking, finance, or industrial conglomerates. The most senior billionaires, those over 70, have made their wealth through finance, conglomerates, and real estate, CNBC reports.
In 2022, the number of billionaires in the world declined by 3.5%, the first drop since 2018, according to Altrata. Asia had the most significant decline, with a 7.1% drop in the billionaire population. North America followed with a 2.3% decline, and Europe saw a 2.2% decrease. The U.S. remains the country with the most billionaires in the world, and New York is the top city for the number of billionaires, with 136. Hong Kong followed with 112.