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Most people don’t want to be billionaires, study finds

If an unlimited amount of money sounds appealing to you, a new study suggests you may be in the minority.

Researchers have surveyed more than 7,000 people living in countries around the world, including the UK, US, China, France, India and Australia.

They found that most people don’t want more than £8.2 million ($10 million) to live an “absolutely ideal life.”

The results suggest that ‘unlimited wants’, an economic principle according to which people want an unlimited amount of money and possessions, is not true.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is currently the world’s richest person, with a net worth of $216bn (£176bn).

But most people would like much less than this in their lifetime, possibly because they think such a colossal amount is too greedy.

Most people don't want to be billionaires and consider £8m to be the ideal amount of money for a

Most people don’t want to be billionaires and consider £8m to be the ideal amount of money for an ‘absolutely ideal life’, study shows (file photo)


‘Unlimited wants’ is an economic principle that people want an unlimited amount of money, possessions and services.

The longstanding economic belief that people have unlimited needs has permeated economic thinking and government policy and has shaped much of modern society, including advertising and consumerism.

Following a global study, researchers say unlimited desires are not as widespread as previously thought.

The new study was led by psychologists from the universities of Bath, Bath Spa and Exeter and published in Nature Sustainability.

“The ideology of unlimited desires, when portrayed as human nature, can create social pressure for people to buy more than they really want,” said study author Dr. Paul Bain, of the University of Bath.

“Discovering that most people’s ideal life is actually quite moderate could make it socially easier for people to behave more in alignment with what makes them truly happy, and support stronger policies to help safeguard the planet.” “.

For the study, the team surveyed 7,860 people in 33 countries on six continents to see how much money they wanted to achieve an absolutely ideal life.

In 86 per cent of countries, most people thought they would achieve their absolutely ideal life on $10 million or less, and in some countries on as little as $1 million (£830,000) or less.

These mounts represent a person’s ideal wealth over their lifetime, so they’re relatively modest even though they sound like a lot, depending on the team.

A ‘substantial’ minority (between 8% and 39% depending on the country) wanted all the money they could get.

The wealth of Elon Musk, the richest person in the world at over $200 billion, is enough for over 200,000 people to achieve their absolutely ideal lives.

Elon Musk (pictured) is currently the world's richest person, with a net worth of $216bn (£176bn)

Elon Musk (pictured) is currently the world’s richest person, with a net worth of $216bn (£176bn)

The researchers note in their article that “some people may have reported more limited desires to avoid being seen as greedy.”

In general, people with unlimited desires tended to be younger and city dwellers, who valued success, power, and independence more.

Unlimited wants were also more common in countries with a higher acceptance of inequality and in countries that are more collectivist, focusing more on the group than on individual responsibilities and outcomes.

An example of a collectivist society is Indonesia, which had the most people with unlimited needs, while the more individualistic and equality-minded UK had fewer.

Participants were asked how much money they would like to live an ideal life.  The graph shows the average results for each country

Participants were asked how much money they would like to live an ideal life. The graph shows the average results for each country

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

With their study, the researchers claim to challenge the idea that limitless desires are simply human nature, which could have important implications for the planet.

“The findings are a stark reminder that majority opinion is not necessarily reflected in policies that allow the accumulation of excessive amounts of wealth by a small number of people,” said co-author Dr. Renata Bongiorno, from the University of Exeter and also from Bath Spa. University.

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


Money really can buy you happiness, no matter how rich you get, a 2021 study from experts at the University of Pennsylvania found.

For a long time it has been thought that wealth improves people’s lives up to a certain point, but then it stops making a difference.

Previous research suggested that the point at which money no longer brought happiness was around $75,000 (£55,400) a year.

However, the University of Pennsylvania study found that feelings of well-being continue to rise with rising incomes and that there is no limit to the effect.

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