A recent report on the number of super-rich around the world found that China was second only to the U.S. in sheer numbers of billionaires, with 157 billionaires compared to 515 the states.
That’s impressive, but the report found something else perhaps more impressive.
According to the Wealth-X and UBS World Ultra Wealth Report, 89% of Chinese billionaires were self-made. The report says that’s the highest percentage in the world, far higher than the U.S. which has around 68%.
It makes sense, of course, when you remember that China only began making its first steps towards capitalism in the early 1980s, and most of the historically wealthy classes of China had been decimated by years of war, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.
It is remarkable, however, that so much wealth could have been “self-made” in a little over 30 years — it compares extraordinarily well to Russia, which emerged from communism 20 years ago but where less than 67% of billionaires are self-made (the country with the lowest percentage of self-made billionaires in the report was Switzerland at 31%).
So, China may well be the land of opportunity, but it’s also worth bearing something else in mind too: The report doesn’t make a distinction between a hard working entrepreneur and the government corruption in China that has become notorious around the world.