Who is a billionaire? How many billionaires are there in Russia?

“Russia’s staggering wealth inequality – in 2013, it had one billionaire for every $11bn of household wealth, a ratio more than 15 times less equitable than the global average – actually grew directly from its pre-1991 social inequality. Those who held power under the communists turned it into cash so successfully that analysts from Credit Suisse have considered creating a whole new category for Russia in their annual wealth report.”

one billion = 1,000,000,000
11 billion = 11,000,000,000
1 billon dollars = 1 billon mutiplied by 113 yen = 113,000,000,000 yen 千億円長者(?)
11 billion dollars = 11 billon multiplied by 113 yen = 1,243,000,000,000 yen

I wonder how you can define the word “billionaire”.
(One million yen eqals 8,850 dollars. Almost all people in Japan are “millionaires”, although Japanese “millonaires” are one over one hundred thirteen (1/113) as rich as American counterpars.)

"Opinion polls suggest 90 percent of Russians oppose the reform package increasing the retirement age for women from 55 to 63, and 60 to 65 for men. The proposal is blamed for Putin’s popularity rating falling from 80 percent to 67 percent.
“Many people worry that they will not live to receive their pensions. Life expectancy for men is only 67 compared to 77 for women.”

I wonder why Russian men die so young.

"Too much vodka could be to blame for Russia’s notoriously high death rate for young men, according to a new study.
“Since the average life expectancy from birth for men in Russia is still only 64 years, ranking among the lowest 50 countries in the world, more effective alcohol and tobacco policy measures are urgently needed.”

“The number of people in the UK earning more than £1m a year has jumped to over 18,700, with more than one in 10 of them living in Kensington and Chelsea, according to figures released by HM Revenue & Customs.”

There are over 18,700 “millionaires” in the UK, although some of them are “non-doms”.

For four centuries, from the 16th through the 19th century, the Spanish silver dollar (piece of eight, real de a 8) was the world standard for currency. When merchants sent ship captains to carry out trade, the Spanish dollar was accepted worldwide as standard currency. For example, a ship sailing from Boston (USA) to Canton (China) in 1815 would carry on board 100 iron kegs, each filled with 4,000 Spanish dollars, amounting to 400,000 dollars for the sole purpose of purchasing tea when it got to China.

However in the last century, especially since World War II, the United States has become the dominant world power and the US dollar is now considered the worldwide standard. So these days, when one is talking about millionaires or billionaires, it is measured in terms of the US dollar.

I think a person would have to have at least 113,000,000 Japanese yen to be considered a “millionaire” and at least 66,000,000,000 Russian rubles to be considered a “billionaire” by today’s standards.

Of course there is other strong currency in the world today, most notably the Euro and the British pound. A person with the equivalent of 1,000,000 euros or 1,000,000 pounds sterling would also be considered a “millionaire” because those currencies are stronger than the US dollar.

Who knows what the dominant world currency will be in another hundred years.

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Russian bloggers talk about “dollar billionaires” when referencing their oligarchs, and that’s what is usually meant for billionaire. One source I saw recently stated that the wealth inequality in Russia has reached the level of pre-revolutionary tsarist times. Sorry, I cannot recall the source nor its credibility.

Pension reform is a hot topic there, and there have been protests in many cities, some sanctioned, some not. I can easily understand the anger and frustration that many feel, though the new retirement ages are still well below those for full benefits in the US. The sole United Russia representative who voted against the reform in the state duma has proposed leaving the retirement age where it is, but paying a percentage of benefits while they work to individuals who choose to retire later. I have not noticed anyone suggesting anything similar to the US model where you get different levels of benefits for life depending on how late you retire.

United Russia just lost elections in a few regions, though not enough at this point to loosen their grip in any meaningful way. Pension reform has been blamed for those losses, at least in part.

And all the above is not based on my being any sort of expert. It is what I gather from the Russian-language news sources I read and the video blogs I watch, most of which are not part of the media with Kremlin links.

[Edit] The Russian-language term is миллиардер, from миллиард, which corresponds to the US concept of billion. Historically in Britain a billion was a different number – see the Wikipedia article for details, which also states that it currently has the same meaning on both sides of the pond.


I think alcohol has moderated somewhat in recent years? The Huff Post article you give is four years old using at least four-year-old data. I saw a headline yesterday stating that the ministry of health opposes removing bans on hard spirits advertisements (on tv or where?). I assume such a ban was instituted at some point to help address the problem. Some years ago I believe a minimum age was established for purchasing beer, which previously, apparently, had none. Sorry, I don’t have any figures about current trends in alcohol use and abuse in Russia, however.

BTW, the life expectancy numbers above are misleading for those anticipating retirement. They usually apply at birth based on how young or old folks tend to die on average. By the time you reach 55, say, some of your more ill-fated contemporaries have already died off, and you’re a member of that part of the population who will on average live beyond the birth life expectancy – your age at death averaged with that of those who have passed at a younger age is what gives the 67-year figure. (Maybe the babies should be protesting, not the 50+ generation.)

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Re: миллиард / миллиардер

It’s the same terminology in Dutch: miljard = (duizend miljoen)
and a person with euros is called a miljardair.

duizend = 1.000
miljoen = 1.000.000 (duizend duizend)
a person with 1.000.000 euros is called a miljonair.

Forbes published a list of Russian billionaires here: Forbes Billionaires 2023: The Richest People In The World

That list does not include Putin, whom oppositionists accuse of having massive wealth (Vladimir Putin - Wikipedia), nor Medvedev, who is likewise suspected by many (He Is Not Dimon to You - Wikipedia).