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Who wants to be a billionaire? Study says not most people

In almost nine in ten countries, most people thought $10 million over a lifetime or less would get them all they desired. In some, it was as little as $1 million.

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By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

Most people don't want to be a billionaire, according to new research.

Around $9.9 million could buy their "absolutely ideal life" - with some wishing for ten times as little.

Nearly 8,000 people from 33 countries were surveyed - spanning six continents.

The wealth of billionaire SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who is worth over $206 billion, is enough for more than 200,000 to achieve their dream.

A founding principle of economics is everyone is motivated by "unlimited wants" - stuck on a consumerist treadmill and striving to accumulate as much as they can.

It has permeated fiscal ideas and government policies and shaped much of modern society - including advertising and consumerism.

But the theory is a myth - and has had dire consequences for the health of the planet, say the British team.

Striving to continually boost bank balances and pursuing unending economic growth has come at a heavy price - increasing resource use and pollution.

Lead author Dr. Paul Bain, a psychologist at the University of Bath, explained: "The ideology of unlimited wants, when portrayed as human nature, can create social pressure for people to buy more than they actually want.

"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."

It would be bad news for Musk, billionaire Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, who is valued at $128 billion and philanthropist Bill Gates - who likes to choose where he spreads his $121 billion fortune.


In almost nine in ten countries (86%), most people thought $10 million over a lifetime or less would get them all they desired. In some, it was as little as $1 million.

The figures may still sound a lot but represent a person's "perfect" income across their whole life - making them relatively moderate.

Responses were collected from individuals across all inhabited continents including countries rarely used in cross-cultural data like Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Tunisia, Nicaragua and Vietnam.

Those with "unlimited wants" were identified in every country - but they were always in the minority.

They tended to be younger and city dwellers who placed more value on success, power, and independence.

They were also more common in countries with greater acceptance of inequality and more collectivistic- focused on group rather than individual responsibilities.

Indonesia, which is considered more collectivistic and accepting of inequality, had the most.

The UK, on the other hand, which is considered more individualistic and equality-concernes, had fewer.

But there were anomalies like China, where few people had unlimited wants despite high cultural collectivism and acceptance of inequality.

Added co author Dr. Renata Bongiorno, of the University of Exeter: "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.

"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 study is in the journal Nature Sustainability.

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