[Note from Pumpkin Person, July 5, 2018: A previous version of this article greatly underestimated the number of 55 to 69-year-old Nigerians]
According to Forbes 2018 listing of the World’s billionaires, there are only three black billionaires in America (Oprah, Michael Jordan, Robert Smith) and only three black billionaires in Nigeria (Aliko Dangote, Mike Adengua, and Folorunsho Alakija).
Now at first glance, you might think it’s easier to become a black billionaire in America because the U.S. has a much smaller black population than Nigeria has, yet still produced the same number of black billionaires. But this ignores the different age structure of the two countries. If we limit ourselves just to people in the age group of the above mentioned six individuals (55 to 69), then we find America has about 5 million blacks in this age group, and Nigeria has about 10.2 million.
So the odds of a black person in the billionaire age group actually being a billionaire are about one in 1.7 million in America vs one in 3.4 million in Nigeria. So the same black person should find it harder to become a billionaire if they were born in Nigeria as they would if born in America.
Of course the problem with this analysis is that if you were born in Nigeria, you would not be the same person. Third World malnutrition and disease stunt the development of the brain and body. A Nigerian born Michael Jordan would have been 6’4″ instead of 6’6″, making his basketball empire that much less likely, especially since his brain would have been smaller too, shrinking his physical coordination and business sense.
So part of what makes it so hard to get rich in the Third World is that you don’t reach your physiological potential, physically or mentally, however if you do, I’d say it’s probably much harder to get rich in the United States because you’re competing against other people who have also reached their physiological potential (and cultural potential too). So a young black adult raised with no cultural links to either the U.S. or Nigeria would be much better off moving to Nigeria if his only goal was to become a billionaire.