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Economics of Spanish Billionaires

Spain has witnessed a remarkable growth in the number of billionaires over the past two decades, both from multigenerational family businesses and through entrepreneurial wealth. The number of billionaires doubled after 2010, reaching a peak of 25 billionaires in the country. The gap in the number of self-made and inherited billionaires is widening in favor of self-made billionaires. In contrast, this gap is narrowing in Spain.

However, wealth levels in Spain follow the global trends differently from the number of billionaires, where self-made capital dominates in factbillionaire entrepreneurs hold 80% of ten-digit assigned wealth.

When we compare wealth level (in dollar amount), this trend is well-aligned with the world, i.e. total wealth of self-made billionaires is higher than the total wealth of inherited billionaires both in Spain and the world.

The rise of Amancio Ortega, the business magnate and founder of the Inditex Group, has brought an unprecedented wealth concentration to Spain in the last decade. Approximately, two-thirds of the total Spanish billionaires’ wealth is controlled by the Ortega family. In contrast, peer countries with a similar economic size saw a gradual decline in the shares of the richest person among the other billionaires.

Now, the private wealth of the richest person in Spain is equal to 7% of the GDP of the country, placing Spain in second place following Hong Kong, where billionaire Li Ka Shing’s capital is just above 10% of the local economy of the tiny island-nation.

Construction is the most lucrative industry from which to become a billionaire, after spending some time in the political scene in Spain. In fact, the 3 Spanish billionaires that came from a political background found themselves enamored with developmental projects and head the largest such firms of the country.

Data shows that for Spanish billionaires the first marriage comes with higher risk than in other parts of the world. Data reveals that 28% of Spanish billionaires are divorced and that one in five are on their second marriage…

Currently, 6 women billionaires are on the Forbes Billionaires list. Four of them acquired their wealth through inheritance and the remaining two made the list via marriage.

In Spain, we discovered that on average the number of children in rich families is 3.3, well above the global 2.8 average per billionaire family.


  • Both the number and the wealth level of Spanish billionaires have doubled, even though the national GDP has fallen by 18% since 2009;

  • Real estate remains as the main billionaire breeding industry, with approximately 40% of all newcomers emerging from this sphere over the last two decades;

  • Generational family business owners witnessed a marked growth after 2010, almost half of the billionaire’s inherited large firms from their families;

  • Zara’s bold expansion movement brought both economic growth and wealth inequality to the country;

  • All of the Spanish billionaires with a political background sourced their wealth from the construction industry;

  • Spanish family businesses don’t discriminate and place trust in their women leaders: exactly half of the billionaires from family firms are women;

  • Rich families in Spain tend to have more children than those in other parts of the world;

  • Almost three in ten billionaire families get divorced which is double the global average figure for billionaires

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