Point of Pride or Policy Failure: What College Students Think About Billionaires

How much money does one person really need? It depends on who you ask, apparently.

As the question of whether billionaires should or should not exist is just as much about ethics as it is about economics, it’s no wonder this question is as divisive as it is interesting. 

It’s also a question that’s been on the minds of many across the nation in the wake of a few years of pandemic hardship, and more recently, rising inflation contributing to higher costs of living. Like many, college students are feeling the heat.

But where do they stand on the issue of billionaires and whether or not they should exist? Here’s what we found:

Answering on a scale from one to seven, with one representing “it’s well deserved” and seven representing “eat the rich,” the three schools we looked at for insight into this debate found their average answer to be more or less in the middle. Or, well, average. 


Starting off with the most clear-cut demographic, communist and socialist students at all three schools consistently believed the most that billionaires should not exist, with republican and libertarian students answering that they should.

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Women and non-binary students also held the highest average answer at each school, as did bisexual and pansexual students. Men and heterosexual students provided the lowest average answers.

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When it comes to fields of study, STEM majors were the most likely at each school to believe that billionaires should exist, with economics and various engineering majors coming to their defense the strongest. Non-STEM majors, particularly education, language, and various cultural studies majors, were more likely to believe that billionaires shouldn’t exist. 

The results by class year were interesting: at Georgetown and Stanford, seniors were the most likely to believe that billionaires should not exist, while freshman were more likely to disagree, but the difference between class years is marginal—no class years’ average answer was below 4, which may speak to Gen Z’s growing class consciousness and an increase of students who identify as socialist on college campuses. Bowdoin saw a slightly different dynamic with the same generalization, with sophomores disagreeing the most with the existence of billionaires, and juniors being slightly stronger supporters, but again, only marginally.

Across each school, the more anti-billionaire a student is, the more important social activism is to them. They would also be more likely to end a friendship over differing political views and go to great lengths to minimize their harm to the planet. 

On the other side of the spectrum, pro-billionaire students believe it’s important that they make more money than their peers, that expensive dates are more fun, and that gender roles exist for a reason. They also prefer politically incorrect humor. 

This question may not be on your list of first-date icebreakers. Nonetheless, it’s clear that your stance on billionaires is a reflection of the rest of your values, specifically surrounding materialism and integrity, which could ultimately be critical in the long-term success of your relationship. 

Don’t shy away from asking the tough questions—you’ll thank yourself later.