Book Description

Like the robber barons of the 19th century Gilded Age, a new and proliferating crop of billionaires is driving rapid development and industrialization in poor countries. The accelerated industrial growth spurs economic prosperity for some, but it also widens the gap between the super rich and the rest of the population, especially the very poor.

In Rich People Poor Countries, Caroline Freund identifies and analyzes nearly 700 emerging-market billionaires whose net worth adds up to more than $2 trillion. Freund finds that these titans of industry are propelling poor countries out of their small-scale production and agricultural past and into a future of multinational industry and service-based mega firms. And more often than not, the new billionaires are using their newfound acumen to navigate the globalized economy, without necessarily relying on political connections, inheritance, or privileged access to resources. This story of emerging-market billionaires and the global businesses they create dramatically illuminates the process of industrialization in the modern world economy.

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Editorial Reviews

The mass media are always happy to feed the public's appetite for details about how the rich and famous live. Much rarer is the kind of careful analysis of the sources and consequences of great wealth that Freund offers in this book.

Foreign Affairs

A very useful sourcebook for anyone working on the changing face of global and national inequality.

From Poverty to Power

Data Disclosure

Data disclosure: The Billionaire Characteristics Dataset underlying this analysis is available here [zip].


Selected chapters and sections are provided for preview only.




I The Tycoons

1. Who Are the Superrich?

2. Billionaires, by Region and Sector

II Their Businesses

3. Why Are Large Firms Good for Growth?

4. Historical Experiences of Development: Large Firms and Extreme Wealth

5. Big Business, Structural Transformation, and Development

6. Globalization and Extreme Wealth

III Demographic Differences

7. A Few Good Women

8. Young Entrepreneurs, Younger Firms

IV Inequality and Policy Implications

9. Inequality, Growth, and Redistribution

10. Policies for Promoting Innovation and Equity References


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