How many years the average South African needs to work to become a global millionaire

 ·15 Apr 2023

A new report estimates that South Africans earning the average salary in the country would have to work for at least 68 years to become a global millionaire ($1 million).

This is according to a study conducted by analysts, who calculated how many years of work are required to make one million dollars in different countries while earning an average wage, including South Africa.

The ranking included in the study comprised 102 countries and summed up all the money an average employee takes home after tax in each country for an entire year.

According to the ranking, citizens of Switzerland will earn their first million dollars the fastest – in 14 years and three months. The second place belongs to Singapore, with its citizens hitting $1 million in 16 years and 11 months.

Citizens of third place Luxembourg have to work five months more – 17 years and four months – while the USA and Iceland close out the top 5 with 19 years and ten months and 20 years and 11 months, respectively.

South Africa ranked 38th. South Africans earning the average wage will need 68 years and three months to make a million dollars, the report said.

With this result, Saudi Arabian employees will earn their first million 27 years faster than South Africans (28th – 41 years and ten months), and there is a 39-year gap between South Africa and the United Kingdom (17th – 29 years and nine months).

Comparatively, however, South Africa overtook countries such as China (faster by ten years), Russia (by 68 years) and Nigeria (by 451 years).

South Africa is the most well-off country in Africa by’s metrics, as a million dollars is worth over 500 years of work in Nigeria (519 years and one month), Uganda (523 years and three months), and Egypt (603 years and six months).

Pakistan ranked at the bottom of the list, taking a whopping 621 years and three months on the average salary to earn $1 million.

The average monthly net wage data comes from Numbeo, one of the world’s largest databases of user-contributed data regarding cities and countries worldwide.

The average salaries used for the ranking come from Numbeo’s latest global average salary report for April 2022. However, noted that the dollar conversations for the wages from each country were used with the average exchange rate data from Google Finance for March 2023.

According to Stats SA’s latest quarterly employment survey (QES) for the fourth quarter of the year ending December 2022, the average salary of the average formally-employed non-agricultural worker in the country is now R26,032 a month – R3,688 more than the salary recorded by Numbeo in April 2022.

Considering this and the rand-to-dollar exchange rate as of 12 April 2023, it would take South Africans earning R26,032 a month 59 years to reach $1 million (R18,433,448) – the title of a global millionaire.

On the current ranking by, this would move South Africa up by only three places to 35th from 38th in the order.

Read: Domestic workers and the minimum wage – how jobs have been affected in South Africa

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