South African Workers’ 68-Year Path to Millionaire Status: A Global Comparison

Published by
WIlliam Dube
  1. A study by revealed that South Africans earning the average wage would need to work for 68 years and three months to become global millionaires, ranking 38th out of 102 countries analyzed.
  2. Switzerland, Singapore, and Luxembourg topped the list as the fastest nations for workers to accumulate $1 million, while South Africa outperformed several other countries, including China, Russia, and Nigeria.
  3. Factoring in updated salary data from Stats SA, South African workers earning R26,032 per month would still require 59 years to reach the global millionaire threshold, moving the country’s ranking up to 35th.

A recent study published by provides an insightful look into how long it would take for an average South African worker to amass a fortune of $1 million, placing them in the elite category of global millionaires. The comprehensive report analyzed data from 102 countries, calculating the number of years required for workers earning the average wage in each nation to reach the $1 million milestone.

The study, which took into account the average after-tax income of employees in each country, revealed that South Africans would need to work a staggering 68 years and three months to achieve this financial goal. South Africa ranked 38th among the countries included in the analysis, with some nations demonstrating a much quicker path to millionaire status.

Switzerland topped the list, with its citizens able to reach the $1 million mark in just 14 years and three months. Singapore followed closely behind in second place, with a required working period of 16 years and 11 months. Luxembourg claimed third place, necessitating 17 years and four months of labor to accumulate $1 million. The United States and Iceland rounded out the top five, with workers needing 19 years and ten months and 20 years and 11 months, respectively.

In comparison to some of its global counterparts, South Africa’s position highlights a significant disparity in wealth accumulation potential. For example, Saudi Arabian employees would earn their first million 27 years faster than South Africans (28th place – 41 years and ten months), and the United Kingdom boasts a 39-year advantage (17th place – 29 years and nine months).

Despite this, South Africa outperformed several other nations, including China (by ten years), Russia (by 68 years), and Nigeria (by a staggering 451 years). Moreover, South Africa emerged as the most prosperous country in Africa by’s standards. In contrast, Nigeria, Uganda, and Egypt would require 519 years and one month, 523 years and three months, and 603 years and six months of work, respectively, to attain millionaire status.

Pakistan occupied the bottom of the ranking, with an average worker needing an incredible 621 years and three months to accumulate $1 million.

The data used for this study was sourced from Numbeo, one of the largest databases for user-contributed information on cities and countries worldwide. The average salary figures were drawn from Numbeo’s global average salary report for April 2022, while dollar conversions were based on average exchange rate data from Google Finance for March 2023.

According to the latest quarterly employment survey (QES) conducted by Stats SA for the fourth quarter ending December 2022, the average salary for formally-employed, non-agricultural workers in South Africa is now R26,032 per month. This figure reflects an increase of R3,688 compared to the salary recorded by Numbeo in April 2022.

Factoring in the rand-to-dollar exchange rate as of 12 April 2023, a South African earning R26,032 per month would require 59 years to reach the global millionaire threshold of $1 million (R18,433,448). This adjustment would result in South Africa moving up a mere three places to 35th from its current 38th position in the ranking.

This comprehensive analysis provides a fascinating glimpse into the varying timelines and paths to financial success across the globe, highlighting the disparities in wealth accumulation potential between countries.

WIlliam Dube

William Dube is a finance and economic news expert with over 10 years of experience in economic anaylsis, financial product assessment and market analysis. With a numerous certificates from prestigious universities including but not limited to Yale University and the University of Pennyslivenia. William specializes in providing insightful news developments in South Africa and commentary on investment strategies, risk management, and global economic trends. You can contact him on

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