Could Billionaires End World Poverty?

From a psychological standpoint, billionaires are tough eggs to crack. They inspire a special mix of awe, respect, jealousy, and even contempt. On one hand, their achievements are amazing, but on the other, you've got to ask: "Do you really need so much when so many people could benefit from just a sliver of the grand fortune you've amassed?"

Some do more than others. Bill Gates is an example of a billionaire willing to part with his wealth, by 2017, having given more than $40 billion away in grants through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, according to Forbes. Say what you want about Windows Vista, but the man is clearly looking out for the have-nots.

Imagine what would happen if all the world's billionaires had the same mentality. They could do some great things. Money reports that there are around 2,000 billionaires, as many as there ever have been, and that they made enough money in 2018 alone –- $762 billion — to end extreme poverty seven times over. 

For the record, World Bank classifies extreme poverty as living on $1.90 or less a day, and thankfully, this number has dropped from about 2 billion people in 1990 to around 750 million. 

However, if you're pulling in $2, $5, or $10 a day, this is still poverty. To end all poverty, The Borgen Project states it would take $175 billion a year for 20 years, which amounts to $3.5 trillion. Considering that the wealth of billionaires in 2019 is about $8.7 trillion, it's definitely doable.

Of course, things aren't so simple. Not all problems can be solved with money, and not all are willing to give, but it's nice to know there is hope. Overall as a society, we are becoming more charitable, according to Vox, which reported total donations to charities in 2017 amounted to $410 billion, a figure (in current dollars) that Giving USA says has increased almost every year for four decades.