Dr. Gerhard Falk, a Jewish American professor of sociology:

48% of American billionaires are Jewish. It is therefore not unreasonable to project that nearly half of the most successful American business men and women are Jewish by any definition of “Jewish.”

This forum thread says:

Jewish Americans are the most powerful and influential ethnic group in America. Jewish Americans make up 2 percent of the U.S. population yet comprise 40 percent of U.S. billionaires.

Were 48% of American billionaires Jewish in 2014? And do these figures still stand for 2016?

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    Does it really matter if it's 40% or 48%, this seems very petty.
    – SIMEL
    Jan 16, 2017 at 20:57
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    These questions always fall on the definition of "Jewish". The question says 'Jewish by any definition of “Jewish.”', so I expect this to mean they believe in a Judaic god, have been bar/but mitzvahed, and self-identify as Jews - not merely that they are ethnically Jews or have a Jewish grandmother.
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 16, 2017 at 21:36
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    @Oddthinking: It might be interesting to ask what percentage of the American population is Jewish, by various definitions of Jewish.
    – jamesqf
    Jan 17, 2017 at 19:11
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    @Oddthinking, 'any' is OR, not AND. A.E., very good point!
    – Benjol
    Jan 18, 2017 at 6:19

1 Answer 1


NO, only 19.4% of American billionaires are Jewish in 2016

Less than 33% of American billionaires were Jewish in 2014 (this is an overestimated upper bound, read below for full details).

According to Forbes there were 540 American billionaires in 2016:

America boasts 540 billionaires, more than any other country on the planet and more than all of Europe combined.

Forbes Israel compiled a list of all Jewish1 billionaires in 2016, including their nationality, on the list there are 106 people with US citizenship starting with Larry Ellison, 5th richest man on earth and ending with Charles Zegar, 1342th richest man on earth.

In total there are 106 out of 540 which are 19.4%.

Also, according to the same list and the accompanying article Jewish billionaires comprised 11% of the world USD billionaires.

In 2014, according to Forbes there were 492 US billionaires, by taking the list of 2014 billionaires and comparing to the 2016 list2 I got a list of people who were billionaires in 2014 but not in 20163 there are at most 59 people who lost their billionaire status between 2014 and 2016, to get the highest possible number of Jewish US billionaires we would have to assume that all of the people who stoped being billionaires were Jews, and that all the Jewish billionaires in 2016 were also billionaires in 2014. This gives us a theoretical limit of 165 Jewish billionaires out of 492 which is 33%.

I can't tell for sure how many Jewish US billionairs there were in 2014, but it was at most 33%.

1 - The list is comprised of practicing Jews like Lev Leviev, non-practicing Jews like Mark Zuckerberg and people with Jewish ancestry but who are not considered Jews by the Jewish religion like Nicolas Berggruen.

2 - I copy-pasted the lists, used a Python script to compare the lists, and ran it on repl.it. I'll upload it once I figure out the best way to do so.

3 - There maybe some people who are in both lists but the script missed due to different spelling. The people who lost billionaire status includes people whose worth was reduced as well as people who died in that time.

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    @Oddthinking, we already had this discattion many times, the list contains non practicing Jews, like Zukerberg and Larry Ellison, when people talk about Jews it's usualy in the broader context of ethnisity and not religeous prectice, also, as I've said before, they are concidered Jews by the Jewish religeon even if they don't practice it, and even if they practice another religeon.
    – SIMEL
    Jan 16, 2017 at 21:32
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    @Oddthinking Doesn't "by any definition" mean "according to even the loosest definition", not "by the strictest definition"? (Although, the Forbes IL list does not specify what definition it uses.)
    – ff524
    Jan 16, 2017 at 21:43
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    @Oddthinking, as ff524 "by any defenition" is an enclusive term not an exclusive term, so it should also consider the less strict defenitions. Please don't tell people how to define themself, again, I'm a Jew, I don't practice the religeon, nor do I believe in it. More over don't tell Jews how to define their own religion, if the Jewish religeous law says that being born to a Jewish mother is all that's needed, don't add your own demands like believing in god, Bar Mitzva or anything else.
    – SIMEL
    Jan 16, 2017 at 21:54
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    @ff524 If you ask on English.se, I can tell you the answer you'll get is "by any definition" is loose, and means "by passing any one definition".
    – Dan Bron
    Jan 16, 2017 at 23:48
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    @MohammadSakibArifin, are you suggesting that in two years the percentage of Jewish Billionaires has changed by a factor of 2?
    – SIMEL
    Jan 17, 2017 at 7:37

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