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A large suburban home valued at roughly $1,000,000 (2006) in Salinas, California, shown for scale of purchasing power 1 million dollar home.jpg
A large suburban home valued at roughly $1,000,000 (2006) in Salinas, California, shown for scale of purchasing power
Global share of wealth by wealth group, Credit Suisse, 2021 Global Wealth Distribution 2020 (Property).svg
Global share of wealth by wealth group, Credit Suisse, 2021

A millionaire is an individual whose net worth or wealth is equal to or exceeds one million units of currency. Depending on the currency, a certain level of prestige is associated with being a millionaire. [2] Many national currencies have, or have had at various times, a low unit value, in many cases due to past inflation. It is obviously much easier and less significant to be a millionaire in those currencies, thus a millionaire (in the local currency) in Hong Kong or Taiwan, for example, may be merely averagely wealthy, or perhaps less wealthy than average. A millionaire in Zimbabwe in 2007 could have been extremely poor. [3] Because of this, the term 'millionaire' generally refers to those whose assets total at least one million units of a high-value currency, such as the United States dollar, euro, or pound sterling.


As of December 2022, there were estimated to be just over 15 million millionaires in the world according to the World's Wealthiest Cities Report 2023 by Henley & Partners. The United States had the highest number of millionaires (5.3 million) of any country, whilst New York is the wealthiest city with 340,000 millionaires. [4]

In countries that use the short scale number naming system, a billionaire is someone who has at least a thousand times a million dollars, euros or the currency of the given country.


The word "millionaire" was apparently coined in French in 1719 to describe speculators in the Mississippi Bubble who earned millions of livres in weeks before the bubble burst. [5] [6] [7] (The standard French spelling is now millionnaire, [8] though the earliest reference uses a single n. [7] ) The word was first used (as millionnaire, double "n") in French in 1719 by Steven Fentiman, and is first recorded in English (millionaire, as a French term) in a letter of Lord Byron of 1816, then in print in Vivian Grey, a novel of 1826 by Benjamin Disraeli. [6] Earlier English writers also mention the French word, including Sir William Mildmay in 1764. [9] The OED's first print citation is Benjamin Disraeli's 1826 novel Vivian Grey , [6] The anglicisation millionary was used in 1786 by Thomas Jefferson while serving as Minister to France; he wrote: "The poorest labourer stood on equal ground with the wealthiest Millionary". [10]

While statistics regarding financial assets and net worth are presented by household, the term is also often used to describe only the individual who has amassed the assets as millionaire. That is, even though the term statistically refers only to households, common usage is often in reference only to an individual.

Net worth vs. financial assets

There are multiple approaches to determining a person's status as a millionaire. One of the two most commonly used measurements is net worth, which counts the total value of all property owned by a household minus the household's debts. According to this definition, a household owning an $800,000 home, $50,000 of furnishings, two cars worth $60,000, a $60,000 retirement savings account, $45,000 in mutual funds, and a $325,000 vacation home with a $250,000 mortgage, $40,000 in car loans, and $25,000 in credit card debt would be worth about $1,025,000; and every individual in this household would thus be a millionaire. However, according to the net financial assets measurement used for some specific applications (such as evaluating an investor's expected tolerance for risk for stockbroker ethics), equity in one's principal residence is excluded, as are lifestyle assets, such as the car and furniture. Therefore, the above example household would only have net financial assets of $115,000. Another term used is "net investable assets" or working capital. These practitioners may use the term "millionaire" to mean somebody who is free to invest a million units of currency through them as broker. For similar reasons, those who market goods, services and investments to HNWIs are careful to specify a net worth "not counting principal residence". At the end of 2011, there were around 5.1 million HNWIs in the United States, [11] while at the same time there were 11 million millionaires [12] in a total of 3.5 million millionaire households, [13] including those 5.1 million HNWIs.

In the real estate bubble up to 2007, average house prices in some U.S. regions exceeded $1 million, but many homeowners owed large amounts to banks holding mortgages on their homes. For this reason, there are many people in million-dollar homes whose net worth is far short of a million—in some cases, the net worth is actually negative.


While millionaires constitute only a small percentage of the population, they hold substantial control over economic resources, with the most powerful and prominent individuals usually ranking among them. The total amount of money held by millionaires can equal the amount of money held by a far higher number of poor people. The Gini coefficient, and other measures in economics, estimated for each country, are useful for determining how many of the poorest people have the equivalent total wealth of the few richest in the country. Forbes and Fortune magazines maintain lists of people based on their net worth and are generally considered authorities on the subject. Forbes listed 1,645 dollar billionaires in 2014, with an aggregate net worth of $6.4 trillion, an increase from $5.4 trillion the previous year. [14] (see US-dollar billionaires in the world). According to a report by Hurun, a market research firm based in China, the global billionaire population stood at 3,381 in 2022. [15]

Sixteen percent of millionaires inherited their fortunes. Forty-seven percent of millionaires are business owners. Twenty-three percent of the world's millionaires got that way through paid work, consisting mostly of skilled professionals or managers. [16] Millionaires are, on average, 61 years old with $3.05 million in assets. [17]

Historical worth

Depending on how it is calculated, a million US dollars in 1900 is equivalent to $32.6 million (in 2021). [18]

Thus one would need to have almost thirty million dollars today to have the purchasing power of a US millionaire in 1900, or more than 100 million dollars to have the same impact on the US economy.


Dated ways of describing someone worth n millions are "n-fold millionaire" and "millionaire n times over". Still commonly used is multimillionaire, which refers to individuals with net assets of 2 million or more of a currency. [20] There are approximately 584,000 US$ multimillionaires who have net assets of $10M+ worldwide in 2017. [21] Roughly 1.5% of US$ millionaires are "ultra-high-net-worth individuals" (ultra-HNWIs), defined as those with a net worth or wealth of $30 million or more. There are approximately 226,000 ultra-HNWIs in the world in 2017, according to Wealth-X. [22] The rising prevalence of people possessing ever increasing quantities of wealth has given rise to additional terms to further differentiate millionaires. Individuals with net assets of 100 million or more of a currency are commonly termed centimillionaires, [23] or more rarely hectomillionaires. [24]

HNWI population

Number of millionaires and ultra-millionaires (more than $30M) Number of Millionaires.gif
Number of millionaires and ultra-millionaires (more than $30M)

High-net-worth individuals (those with financial assets, not including the residence, greater than a million US dollars).

HNWI Wealth Distribution (by Region) [25]
RegionHNWI PopulationHNWI Wealth
Global12 million$46.2 trillion
North America 3.73 million$12.7 trillion
Asia-Pacific 3.68 million$12.0 trillion
Europe 3.41 million$10.9 trillion
Latin America 0.52 million$7.5 trillion
Middle East 0.49 million$1.8 trillion
Africa 0.14 million$1.3 trillion

Global cities with the most super-wealthy millionaires per capita (higher than $30 million)

According to wealth research group Wealth-X that released its latest UHNW Cities report, showing the residential footprint of the world's top ultra-high net worth (UHNW) individual cities.

Excluding Monaco – which has very high UHNWI density – Geneva has the highest density of super-wealthy people per capita in the world. The city is known as the most compact metropolitan area, and also enjoys a concentration of affluence. Singapore has the second-highest concentration, followed by San Jose, the center of Silicon Valley, and the largest city in Northern California. While New York City leads in terms of overall UHNW footprint, London has a similar number of UHNW "second homers" despite a considerably smaller population. Paris features as the second-highest European city, after London, Wealth-X said. Among suburbs and smaller towns, Beverly Hills has the highest overall number of UHNW residents, and Aspen has the highest concentration on a per capita basis, the report showed. Ultra-high net worth individuals are defined by Wealth-X as those whose total net worth is higher than $30 million (R400 million). [26]

Number of UHNWIs per country

The following is a list of the countries with the most Ultra high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI) as of November 2019 as per the 2020 Knight Frank's Wealth Report. [27]

RankCountryNumber of
1 Flag of the United States.svg United States240,575
2 Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg China 61,587
3 Flag of Germany.svg Germany 23,078
4 Flag of France.svg France 18,776
5 Flag of Japan.svg Japan 17,013
6 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg UK 14,367
7 Flag of Italy.svg Italy 10,701
8 Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Canada 9,325
9 Flag of Russia.svg Russia 8,924
10 Flag of Switzerland (Pantone).svg Switzerland 8,395
11 Flag of Spain.svg Spain 6,475
12 Flag of India.svg India 5,986
13 Flag of South Korea.svg South Korea 5,847
14 Flag of Sweden.svg Sweden 5,174
15 Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg Saudi Arabia 5,100

Countries by number and percentage of millionaires

* indicates "Economy of COUNTRY or TERRITORY" links.

List of selected countries by Credit Suisse (2021) [1]
Country or
subnational area
Number of
Share of
% of
(% of adult
Flag of the United States.svg United States * 21,951,20239.18.8
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg China * 5,279,4679.40.5
Flag of Japan.svg Japan * 3,662,4076.53.5
Flag of Germany.svg Germany * 2,952,7105.34.3
Flag of France.svg France * 2,498,9394.44.9
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom * 2,490,9524.44.7
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Australia * 1,804,6443.29.4
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Canada * 1,681,9693.05.6
Flag of Italy.svg Italy * 1,479,8302.63.0
Flag of Spain.svg Spain * 1,146,9112.03.0
Flag of South Korea.svg South Korea * 1,051,1041.92.5
Flag of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands * 1,039,2391.97.7
Flag of Switzerland (Pantone).svg Switzerland * 1,034,9181.814.9
Flag of India.svg India * 697,6551.20.1
Flag of the Republic of China.svg Taiwan * 608,9971.13.1
Flag of Sweden.svg Sweden * 570,4391.07.3
Flag of Hong Kong.svg Hong Kong * 520,0000.98.3
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium * 514,8590.95.7
Flag of Austria.svg Austria * 346,1720.64.8
Flag of Denmark.svg Denmark * 306,8230.56.7
Flag of Singapore.svg Singapore * 269,9250.55.5
Flag of Russia.svg Russia * 268,5500.50.2
Flag of Mexico.svg Mexico * 264,0340.50.3
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg Saudi Arabia * 236,0000.41.0
Flag of New Zealand.svg New Zealand * 225,4870.46.3
Flag of Brazil.svg Brazil * 207,0000.40.1
Flag of Ireland.svg Ireland * 181,7270.35.0
Flag of Norway.svg Norway * 176,6300.34.2
Flag of Indonesia.svg Indonesia * 171,7400.30.1
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg United Arab Emirates * 169,1130.32.1
Flag of Israel.svg Israel * 164,8990.32.9
Flag of Poland.svg Poland * 149,1200.30.5
Flag of Portugal.svg Portugal * 136,4300.21.6
Flag of Turkey.svg Turkey * 115,4730.20.2
Flag of Thailand.svg Thailand * 86,2160.20.2
Flag of Finland.svg Finland * 85,1140.21.9
Flag of the Philippines.svg Philippines * 81,0000.10.1
Flag of Kuwait.svg Kuwait * 78,6500.12.5
Flag of Greece.svg Greece * 72,3670.10.9
Flag of Egypt.svg Egypt * 70,0000.10.1

Number of millionaires by city

As of December 2022, New York is the wealthiest city in the world with 340,000 HNWIs according to the World's Wealthiest Cities Report 2023 by Henley & Partners. [28]

RankCityNumber of
1 Flag of the United States.svg New York City 340,000
2 Flag of Japan.svg Tokyo 290,300
3 Flag of the United States.svg San Francisco Bay Area 285,000
4 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg London 258,000
5 Flag of Singapore.svg Singapore 240,100
6 Flag of the United States.svg Los Angeles 205,400
7 Flag of Hong Kong.svg Hong Kong 129,500
8 Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg Beijing 128,200
9 Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg Shanghai 127,200
10 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Sydney 126,900

Disparity in United States

There is a wide disparity in the estimates of the number of millionaires residing in the United States. A quarterly report prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of Barclays Wealth in 2007 estimated that there were 16.6 million millionaires in the US. [29] At the end of 2011, there were around 5.1 million HNWIs in the US, [11] while at the same time, there were 11 million millionaires [12] in a total of 3.5 million millionaire households, [13] including those 5.1 million HNWIs.

According to TNS Financial Services, as reported by CNN Money, 2 million households in the US alone had a net worth of at least $1 million excluding primary residences in 2005. [30] According to TNS, in mid-2006 the number of millionaire US households was 9.3 million, with an increase of half a million since 2005. [31] The study found that half of all millionaire households in the US were headed by retirees. In 2004 the United States saw a "33 percent increase over the 6.2 million households that met that criteria [sic] in 2003", fueled largely by the country's real estate boom. [32]

A report by Capgemini for Merrill Lynch on the other hand stated that in 2007 there were approximately 3,028,000 households in the United States who held at least US$1 million in financial assets, excluding collectibles, consumables, consumer durables and primary residences. [33]

According to TNS Financial Services, Los Angeles County, California, had the highest number of millionaires, [34] totalling over 262,800 households in mid-2006. [31]

Top 10 counties by HNWIs (more than $1 million, in 2009) [35]
CountyStateNumber of
Los Angeles County California 268,138
Cook County Illinois 171,118
Orange County California 116,157
Maricopa County Arizona 113,414
San Diego County California 102,138
Harris County Texas 99,504
Nassau County New York 79,704
Santa Clara County California 74,824
Palm Beach County Florida 71,221
King County Washington 68,390

See also

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