For other uses, see Millionaire (disambiguation).
A large suburban home valued at roughly $1,000,000 (2006) in Salinas, California, shown for scale of purchasing power.

A millionaire is an individual whose net worth or wealth is equal to or exceeds one million units of currency. It can also be a person who owns one million units of currency in a bank account or savings account. Depending on the currency, a certain level of prestige is associated with being a millionaire, which makes that amount of wealth a goal for some, and almost unattainable for others.[1] 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 (e.g. $1,000,000,000). In contrast, a trillionaire in countries that use the long scale number naming system would be someone who has at least a million times a million units of currency (e.g. $1,000,000,000,000). There is no evidence that anyone on the planet has achieved the latter in either US dollars or euros. The increasing number of millionaires is partially due to prevailing economics, especially inflation; as the individual value of each unit of currency decreases, achieving a million of these becomes easier. The purchasing power of a million US dollars in 1850 is equivalent to $8.13 million in Template:Inflation--year. [2][3]

Conversely (and historical worth notwithstanding), due to inflation, purchasing power, costs of living and relative currency exchange rates, being millionaires (in terms of respective currency) in Hong Kong or Taiwan may still be considered average, if not poor. Being a millionaire (in Zimbabwean bond coins, abolished since 2009) in Zimbabwe is considered extremely poor.[4]

At the end of 2015, there were just over 13 million US$ millionaires or High-net-worth individual (HNWIs) in the world. The United States of America had the highest number of HNWIs (4,180,000) of any country, whilst London had the most HNWIs (370,000) among cities as based on data from the Knight Frank Wealth Report [5]


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] An earlier English word "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".[7] The first American printed use of the word is thought to be in an obituary of New York tobacco manufacturer Pierre Lorillard II in 1843.[8]

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 $800k home, $50k of furnishings, two cars worth $60k, a $60k retirement savings account, $45k in mutual funds, and a $325k vacation home with a $250k mortgage, $40k in car loans, and $25k 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 $105,000. 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 high-net-worth individuals (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 US,[9] while at the same time, there were 11 million millionaires[10] in a total of 3.5 million millionaire households,[11] 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. Also, the total amount of money held by millionaires can equal the same 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.[12] (see US-dollar billionaires in the world).

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.[13] Millionaires are, on average, 61 years old with $3.05 million in assets.[14]

Historical worth

Depending on how it is calculated, a million US dollars in 1900 is equivalent to ($28.5 million in 2015).[2]

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 a hundred million dollars to have the same impact on the US economy.


Another commonly used term is multimillionaire which usually refers to individuals with net assets of 10 million or more of a currency. There are approximately 510,000 US$ multimillionaires worldwide in 2015 according to data from the Knight Frank Wealth Report.[5] Roughly 1.5% of US$ millionaires can also correctly be identified as ultra-high-net-worth individuals (ultra-HNWIs), those with a net worth or wealth of $30 million or more. There were approximately 210,000 US$ ultra-HNWIs in the world in 2015, according to Wealth-X.[16]

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 have been termed hectomillionaires.[17] The term centimillionaire has become synonymous with hectomillionaire in America, despite the centi- prefix meaning the one hundredth of a whole, not 100, in the metric system.[18] Offshoots of the term include pent-hectomillionaire, referring to those who are halfway to becoming billionaires.[19] In discussions on wealth inequality in the United States, hectomillionaires are said to be in the richest 0.01%, prompting calls for a redistribution of wealth.[20]

HNWI population

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

High Net Worth Individuals.

HNWI Wealth Distribution (by Region)[21]
Region HNWI Population HNWI Wealth
Global 12 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 America0.52 million$7.5 trillion
Middle East0.49 million$1.8 trillion
Africa0.14 million$1.3 trillion

Number of millionaires by Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse's "Global Wealth in 2015" measured the number of millionaires in the world. According to the report, the US has 15.7 million millionaires, highest in the world.

Number of millionaires by country[22][23][24]
Rank Country Number of Millionaires % of adult pop.
1  United States 15,656,000 6.4%
2  United Kingdom 2,364,000 4.9%
3  Japan 2,126,000 2.0%
4  France 1,791,000 3.7%
5  Germany 1,525,000 2.3%
6  China 1,333,000 0.1%
7  Italy 1,126,000 2.3%
8  Canada 984,000 3.6%
9  Australia 961,000 5.7%
10   Switzerland 667,000 10.8%
11  Taiwan 414,000 2.2%
12  India 185,000 0.0%
13  Brazil 168,000 0.1%
14  Singapore 142,000 3.5%
15  Mexico 122,000 0.2%

The U.S. has around five times the population of the U.K., so the millionaires per capita aren’t too different—around 4.9% of the U.S. population is a millionaire and 3.7% of the U.K.[23]

Number of millionaires per city by Knight Frank

The following is a list of the cities with the most number of US$ millionaires as of December 2015 according to data compiled for the Knight Frank Wealth Report by New World Wealth.[5]

RankCityNumber of US dollar millionaires (2015)
1United Kingdom London370,000
2United States New York City320,000
3Japan Tokyo264,000
4Singapore Singapore224,000
5Hong Kong Hong Kong215,000
6United States Los Angeles165,000
7Germany Frankfurt143,000
8United States Chicago134,000
9United States San Francisco129,000
10France Paris126,000

Number of millionaires by Boston Consulting Group

The following is a list of the countries with the most millionaire households in U.S. dollars worldwide according to the Boston Consulting Group's 2016 study.[25]

RankCountryNumber of US dollar millionaire households
1 United States8,008,000
2 China2,070,000
3 Japan1,081,000
4 United Kingdom961,000
5  Switzerland519,000
6 Germany446,000
7 France445,000
8 Canada440,000
9 Italy354,000
10 Taiwan324,000
11 Australia230,000
12 Hong Kong223,000
13 Netherlands222,000
14 Saudi Arabia214,000
15 Belgium202,000

United States

Main article: American upper class

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 USA.[26] At the end of 2011, there were around 5.1 million HNWIs in the US,[9] while at the same time, there were 11 million millionaires[10] in a total of 3.5 million millionaire households,[11] 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.[27] 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.[28] Millionaire households thus constituted roughly seven percent of all American households. The study also 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.[29]

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.[30]

According to TNS Financial Services, Los Angeles County had the highest number of millionaires,[31] totalling over 262,800 households in mid-2006.[28] Los Angeles County is also the largest single jurisdiction of any kind in the United States.

Top 10 counties by HNWIs (more than $1 million, in 2009)[32]
CountyStateNumber of millionaire households
Los Angeles CountyCalifornia 268,138
Cook CountyIllinois171,118
Orange CountyCalifornia116,157
Maricopa CountyArizona113,414
San Diego CountyCalifornia102,138
Harris CountyTexas99,504
Nassau CountyNew York79,704
Santa Clara CountyCalifornia74,824
Palm Beach CountyFlorida71,221
King CountyWashington68,390

Millionaires wealth pyramid

In the pyramid below is illustrated to wealth range of millionaires by number of adults globally who possess from 1 million US dollar to more than 50 million dollars that published by Credit-Suisse in 2013.

See also

Look up millionaire in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.


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  2. 1 2 Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  3. US Inflation Calculator US Inflation Calculator and Rate Charts (1913–current).
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  5. 1 2 3
  6. "Millionaire (n and adj)" (available online to subscribers but also available in print). Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 1816 BYRON Let. 23 June (1976) V. 80 He is still worth at least 50-000 pds{em}being what is called here [sc. Evian] a ‘Millionaire’ that is in Francs & such Lilliputian coinage. 1826 B. DISRAELI Vivian Grey I. ix, Were I the son of a Millionaire, or a noble, I might have all.
  7. "Millionary, n. and adj." (available online to subscribers but also available in print). Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 2008-07-21. 1786 T. JEFFERSON Observ. on Démeunier's Manuscript 22 June in Papers (1954) X. 52 The poorest labourer stood on equal ground with the wealthiest Millionary
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  13. The Economist: A special report on global leaders, More millionaires than Australians, 20 January 2011, pp. 4–7.
  14. "How Most Millionaires Got Rich". Discovery News.
  15. Gold price trend
  17. Forbes - Volume 183 - Page 68, Bertie Charles Forbes - 2009
  18. "Hectomillionaire vs. Centimillionaire"
  20. Kindermann, Fabian (2014). Lambert Strether Lambert.
  21. "World Wealth Report 2013". Capgemini.
  22. Credit Suisse p. 106
  23. 1 2 Wolff-Mann, Ethan. "These 15 Countries Have the Most Millionaires". Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  25. "A million British households are now millionaires – even excluding their houses". The Daily Telegraph. 2016-06-07.
  26. Barclays Wealth Insights. Volume 5: Evolving Fortunes. Barclays (2008). p. 11
  27. Sahadi, Jeanne (2006-03-28). "Top 10 millionaire counties". CNN. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
  28. 1 2 TNS :: TNS Reports Record Breaking Number of Millionaires in the USA. Retrieved on 2011-11-23.
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  31. "Top 10 millionaire counties. No 1. Los Angeles County, California". CNN. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
  32. Top 10 U.S. Counties With The Most Millionaires. Retrieved on 2011-11-23.
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