I’ve already railed against Forbes for insinuating that a college degree doesn’t help a person become a billionaire, but they’ve come out with another idiotic article claiming the same thing. In my prior article, I showed that billionaires in the Forbes 400 list were actually 6 times more likely than the general US population to hold a bachelor’s degree.
Forbes has stated that two-thirds of these billionaires at least have bachelor’s degrees, compared to roughly 25% of the general population. This new Forbes article goes on to state that “[o]f the 274 self-made tycoons on the Forbes 400, 14% either never started or never completed college.” Really? Hmmm, so that means that “self-made” billionaires, presumably those that didn’t start with ludicrous wealth, are even MORE likely (86% versus 66%) to hold college degrees than “regular” billionaires!
In fact, a self-made billionaire is 6.1 times more likely to have a college degree than not (=0.86/0.14.) Also, it’s not too hard to show that a random person with a college degree is 18 times more likely to be a self-made Forbes 400 billionaire than a person without a college degree*!
If you’re not heir to a fortune already, finishing college (or even graduate school) might be the best wealth-building move you can make. Investing in yourself often pays much bigger returns than anything you could get out of the stock market. (Save and send your kids too, they’ll thank you later.)
* To prove this, let’s assume a population of 1000 people. Let’s also assume, for round numbers, that 14 of these are self-made Forbes billionaires. (It doesn’t matter how many billionaires you assume, the numbers still come out the same.) We know that 12 of these billionaires have college degrees (86% of 14), and 2 don’t. We also know that 25%, or 250, of the general population have college degrees. Therefore, of the 750 people without college degrees, only 2 of them are Forbes self-made billionaires, which works out to 0.267% (=2/750.) Of the 250 people WITH college degrees, 12 are self-made billionaires, or 4.8% (=12/250.) Therefore, a randomly-selected person WITH a college degree is 18 (=4.8%/0.267%) times more likely to be a billionaire than a person without a degree! QED: GO TO SCHOOL IF YOU WANT TO BE RICH!
One thought on “Forbes magazine is full of it: Go to college to become a billionaire”
Awesome calculations! That makes me feel a bit better, seeing that it has been nearly a year and a half since I have graduated with a bachelor’s degree and I still haven’t found a job. Speaking of “traits” that make people rich/wealthy, Forbes never took into account ETHNICITY or GENDER … if that were the criteria, then probability would follow that I would be doomed to be poor!