Few people want to become billionaires — which may help save the planet, study says

BATH, United Kingdom — Does it really take billions of dollars to “live your best life”? According to a new survey, most people think the answer is no. Researchers from the University of Bath have found that few people around the world actually want to become billionaires — which they believe is good for the planet.

The team says there has been a long-standing economic principle which states that “unlimited wants” are the motivating force for everyone on the planet. This keeps the world population running on a “consumerist treadmill” as they struggle to build more and more wealth for themselves and their families.

However, as society continues to build around the thought that everyone wants to become the richest person on Earth, researchers say this has “dire consequences” for the health and stability of the planet. Unending economic growth may lead to more wealth worldwide, but the study notes that it has also increased global pollution and the use of natural resources.

With that in mind, the team wanted to see if people worldwide really want all the things society thinks they want. They surveyed nearly 8,000 people in 33 countries on six continents. Specifically, study authors wanted to know what people thought they needed to achieve their “absolutely ideal life.”

Surprisingly, in 86 percent of the countries, the majority of respondents said they could live their best life with less than $10 million. In some countries, respondents said they could achieve this with less than $1 million!

While that may still sound like a lot to some people, it’s actually far less money when you consider that’s the amount people say they need over their entire life. Currently, the world’s richest person has more than $200 billion in the bank. According to the survey, that’s enough money to give 200,000 people their best possible life.

Who still wants to be a billionaire?

The researchers surveyed people about ideal wealth in a wide variety of countries with different cultural and societal philosophies, including Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Tunisia, Nicaragua, and Vietnam. The team also noted which country’s residents still see unlimited wealth as the ultimate goal in life.

They found younger people and city-dwellers in many countries are the most likely to have unlimited wants. These individuals tended to place more value on success, power, and independence. The dream of being a billionaire was also more common in nations where the people had a greater acceptance of inequality and in nations that were more collectivistic — meaning they focus more on group responsibilities than individual ones.

One example of this is Indonesia. Respondents here were the most likely to have unlimited wants.

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

“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.”

“The findings are a stark reminder that the majority view is not necessarily reflected in policies that allow the accumulation of excessive amounts of wealth by a small number of individuals,” adds co-author Dr. Renata Bongiorno from the University of Exeter.

“If most people are striving for wealth that is limited, policies that support people’s more limited wants, such as a wealth tax to fund sustainability initiatives, might be more popular than is often portrayed.”

The findings appear in the journal Nature Sustainability.


  1. Becoming a billionaire takes away too many personal freedoms. I would rather not have to be accountable.

  2. Everybody wants a billion dollars, but most folk know their talents limit their earning potential, and the majority with that billion dollar talent are too lazy to apply themselves. Personally, I am devoid of work ethic and ambition, so I retired at age 50 and never want to work again.
    Life is too much fun for all that stress!

    1. “Everybody wants a billion dollars.” – R-Clay.

      Really? Why? That is like saying that everyone wants a billion bananas.

      Why? Of what use are a billion bananas? You can’t eat them all. Their only utility is to give them away, and as quickly as possible.

      Other than giving it away, what is the use of a billion dollars? It has no personal utility.

  3. I don’t want to have a billion dollars of personal wealth, I would vomit looking in the mirror when I think of poor people. Even most billionaires really use millions in personal money, their billions is capital they control, a vote of confidence in directing it. I would like to be the guy who who can direct billions for the well being of everyone, but with personal wealth several million would do.

    1. Trust me when I say those poor people don’t give two sh*ts about you and wouldn’t care if you dropped dead.

      1. “those poor people don’t give two sh*ts about you ” – Hu Li

        Is that your justification for excessive personal greed?

        The society that exists, exists due to the actions we take.

        Your actions would produce greed, inequity, despair, and social destruction – crime and death, everything that is modern America.

        Your brain pan seems to be quite thin.

  4. What a bunch and fake and garbage viewpoints – for all you feeling you have, or may somehow get too much money – all you have to do is donate it all away – or send it to me, I don’t have even the slightest aversion to becoming wealthy…

  5. We’ll, I identify as a tech billionaire, have for years.
    I’m ready for my long overdue money implants.
    I need affirming!


    1. Congratulations on your achievement, David! You are one of the few “successful” people posting. You knew early on what you wanted and worked hard to achieve your goal. Thus, your words carry wisdom we can all benefit from.

  6. “Currently, the world’s richest person has more than $200 billion in the bank.” Wrong! You lost me right there. It’s not in the bank, it’s not even realized. It’s tied up in stocks, which is a HUGE difference. Either the author doesn’t know the difference between cash in the bank, and the value of unrealized stock, or the author is being dishonest in the reporting. For those reasons…I’m out.

  7. Yeah. OK. I’d rather work my menial job in my non-chosen field and never own any nice personal property while worrying about only being thousands from homelessness. Uh-huh. Few things in life would give you the freedom of being “billionare” wearthy. The personal freedoms such wealth would bring would be stagering, who would really want that?

  8. I’m probably too lazy to become a billionaire. 10 to 20 million I’m out . My only reservation is one of those Super Yachts would be cool but I’ll survive.

  9. Money is power. Enough money – billionaire – is financial protection; for you & yours from the vagarities of the economy. I know poverty, & I know being at the whim of the economy. I’ll take billionaire any day of the week, twice on Sunday. Yes, I would work to increase my bank account – you never have enough. But I wouldn’t be trying to up the Joneses & I wouldn’t kill myself or deny myself the enjoyment of what I have. I’ve lived long enough to not make that mistake. So yeah, when can I expect the check? What? I have to WORK for it? Life is so unfair… 🙁

  10. Money is power & without money u are useless and if U become billionaire in this world every body will respect u in this world so keep struggling to gain

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