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Most people don't want to be billionaires

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  • Researchers at the University of Bath, Bath Spa, and Exeter surveyed 8,000 people across 33 countries and every continent to study whether the desire for unlimited wealth is human nature. 

  • In 86 percent of countries, most people said the ideal lifestyle is attainable with around $10 million, with some who believe $1 million is sufficient.

  • America’s billionaires are collectively worth $4.7 trillion.

Most people don’t want to be billionaires and believe the “absolutely ideal life” might be achieved by accruing $1 million, according to a new study.  

Researchers at the University of Bath, Bath Spa, and Exeter surveyed 8,000 people across 33 countries and every continent to determine whether the desire for unlimited wealth is human nature. In approximately 86 percent of countries, most people said the ideal lifestyle is attainable with around $10 million, with some who believe $1 million is sufficient, 

The team applied this metric in starker terms, showing that the wealth held by the world’s richest person could achieve the ideal life for 200,000 people.  

Despite the relatively modest income standards believed to achieve the ultimate lifetime experience, there were still people in every continent surveyed who desired unlimited wealth. They were always the minority, researchers said.  

“The ideology of unlimited wants, when portrayed as human nature, can create social pressure for people to buy more than they actually want,” lead researcher, Paul Bain from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, said in a news release.  


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“Discovering that most people’s ideal lives are actually quite moderate could make it socially easier for people to behave in ways that are more aligned with what makes them genuinely happy and to support stronger policies to help safeguard the planet,” Bain added.  

An analysis by Forbes shows the number of billionaires worldwide in 2022 fell from 2,755 in 2021 to 2,668 – with a majority of those holding 10 figure net worth’s residing in the U.S. America’s billionaires are collectively worth $4.7 trillion.  

Eight of the 10 richest people – including the world’s wealthiest individual, Elon Musk— live in the U.S. Musk’s current net worth is estimated at slightly more than $215 billion. Bernard Arnault, CEO of Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos round out the top three.  

Four countries, Uruguay, Estonia, Bulgaria and Barbados, added a billionaire to the 2022 list.  

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Published on Jun. 16, 2022

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