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How the rich supersize wealth

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Monday, May 26, 2014
Posted: 6 am ET

Building wealth in this country often goes hand in hand with building a successful business. But although the U.S. is approximately four times more entrepreneurial than Western Europe and three times more so than Japan, we don't have the highest share of billionaire entrepreneurs in our population.

Who has the highest proportion of self-made billionaires?

Billionaire entrepreneurs, such as Bill Gates, are smart and they pick the right industry.

Billionaire entrepreneurs, such as Bill Gates, are smart and they pick the right industry.

A recent report from the Centre for Policy Studies finds that Hong Kong claims the honor of housing the highest proportion of what it calls "SuperEntrepreneurs," with three per every million inhabitants. It's followed by Israel, the U.S., Switzerland and Singapore.

To make the cut as a SuperEntrepreneur, the report examined 1,000 self-made men and women globally who earned at least $1 billion and who have appeared in the Forbes list of richest individuals at least once between 1996 and 2010.

Of course, when figuring the proportion of a population, it's important to remember that the U.S. has a larger share of the world's population overall, compared with the other countries. According to the most recent Forbes list of richest billionaires, eight of the top 10 on the list are from the U.S. This year, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is top of the heap, with an estimated net worth of $76 billion.

What does it take to supersize wealth?

A favorable tax environment, low government regulation and high rates of philanthropy are all important in fostering SuperEntrepreneurs, the report concludes. But those looking to become the next Bill Gates can take note of a couple additional factors:

  • A high level of education: A mere 16 percent of SuperEntrepreneurs lack a college degree, compared with 53 percent of the self-employed population as a whole. Billionaire entrepreneurs are also five times more likely to hold a Ph.D.
  • The right industry: Interestingly, the professions with a traditionally high level of entrepreneurship, such as construction, don't necessarily breed SuperEntrepreneurs. Although the report notes that all industries have opportunities, IT, biotech, finance and retail are where most of the money is made.

Learn more about how the rich invest, save and spend and hear from the financial experts about the secrets to building wealth.

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