Special Report

20 Highest-Paid World Leaders

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In many countries, politicians frequently make more than the average citizen. This is especially true of countries’ leaders. While the size of a president’s or prime minister’s paycheck varies considerably between countries, world leaders are on the whole paid very well.

The countries with the highest GDP per capita often have the best-paid leaders. In these 20 countries, GDP per capita ranges from $97,639 in Luxembourg to $37,519 in Japan. While the leaders’ salaries do not align perfectly with their countries’ GDP per capita, there is an interesting trend. In Singapore, which trails only Luxembourg in wealth, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earns an estimated $1.8 million annually and is by far the highest paid leader. On the other hand, in Iceland, which is among the least wealthy countries considered, Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson has the lowest salary of the 20 leaders, with an annual salary of $133,729.

Of course, leaders of absolute monarchies and of a number of constitutional monarchies are generally among the wealthiest people on the planet. However, they were excluded from this list because incomes of sultans, emirs, and kings are frequently unavailable.

Click here to see the 20 highest-paid world leaders.

Even when looking at primarily Western, relatively wealthy parliamentary democracies, the national governments are often organized differently from one another. While many countries have both a head of state and a head of government — a president and a prime minister, for example — the position that holds the greater power depends on the nation.

In France, President François Hollande, the head of state, holds more power in the country than the head of government, Prime Minister Manuel Valls. The hierarchy is reversed in Germany, where the head of government, Chancellor Angela Merkel, holds the highest position of power over the country’s president, Joachim Gauck.

Similarly, the top of a country’s political hierarchy may be in name only. Austria’s President Heinz Fischer, as the head of state, is regarded as holding the highest office in the country. Fischer is also paid more than Austria’s Chancellor Werner Faymann. Yet, Faymann holds greater sway over national affairs.

The annual salaries of world leaders are always well above the GDP per capita — one measure of what ordinary residents earn each year. In all of these countries, the annual salary of the leader is at least three times the country’s GDP per capita. In Singapore, the head of government earns more than 20 times the country’s GDP per capita.

Annual pay, however, almost never captures the full financial benefits of holding a country’s most powerful position. For example, a country’s highest ranking official is almost always provided a residence which is run and maintained with taxpayers money. In the United States, presidents also receive retirement pensions equal to the compensation of cabinet secretaries. Congress can change the size of this pension, but in past year, the annual pension benefits granted to former presidents has been around half the acting president’s annual pay of $400,000. The prestige associated with a country’s highest-ranking position also often leads to far more lucrative opportunities such as book deals and speaking fees.

Click here to read our methodology.

These are 20 of the world’s highest paid leaders.

Sigmundur_Davíð_Gunnlaugsson_(salary)

> Annual salary in national currency: 16.7 million krónur
> Time in office: 2 years 9 months
> GDP per capita: $44,029

Sauli Miinisto, President of Finland (salary)

> Annual salary in national currency: 140,904 euros
> Time in office: 9 months
> GDP per capita: $40,661

Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway (salary)

> Annual salary in national currency: 1.6 million kroner
> Time in office: 2 years 5 months
> GDP per capita: $67,166

François Hollande, President of France (salary)

> Annual salary in national currency: 178,920 euros
> Time in office: 3 years 10 months
> GDP per capita: $40,538

Leader Pelosi and Members of Congressional Delegation Meet Japan

> Annual salary in national currency: 22.6 million yen
> Time in office: 3 years 2 months
> GDP per capita: $37,519

Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands (salary)

> Annual salary in national currency: 180,000 euros
> Time in office: 5 years 5 months
> GDP per capita: $47,960

David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (salary)

> Annual salary in national currency: 142,500 pounds
> Time in office: 5 years 10 months
> GDP per capita: $39,826

Enda Kenny, Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael, Ireland (salary)

> Annual salary in national currency: 185,000 euros
> Time in office: 5 years
> GDP per capita: $51,284

Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark (salary)

> Annual salary in national currency: 1.5 million kroner
> Time in office: 8 months
> GDP per capita: $44,625

Stefan Löfven

> Annual salary in national currency: 1.9 million kronor
> Time in office: 1 year 5 months
> GDP per capita: $46,219

Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Belgium (salary)

> Annual salary in national currency: 212,000 euros
> Time in office: 1 year 5 months
> GDP per capita: $43,139

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany (salary)

> Annual salary in national currency: 216,278 euros
> Time in office: 10 years 3 months
> GDP per capita: $46,216

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada (salary)

> Annual salary in national currency: 334,800 Canadian dollars
> Time in office: 4 months
> GDP per capita: $44,967

Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg (salary)

> Annual salary in national currency: 225,600 euros
> Time in office: 2 years 3 months
> GDP per capita: $97,639

Austrian politician Werner Faymann at a press conference during the election campaign 2008.

> Annual salary in national currency: 304,006 euros
> Time in office: 7 years 3 months
> GDP per capita: $46,640

 

Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia (salary)

> Annual salary in national currency: 517,504 Australian dollars
> Time in office: 6 months
> GDP per capita: $46,550

Barack Obama, President of the United States (salary)

> Annual salary in national currency: $400,000
> Time in office: 7 years 1 month
> GDP per capita: $54,370

Johann Schieder-Ammann, President of Switzerland (salary)

> Annual salary in national currency: 445,163 francs
> Time in office: 2 months
> GDP per capita: $58,149

Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong (salary)

> Annual salary in national currency: 4.5 million Hong Kong dollars
> Time in office: 3 years 8 months
> GDP per capita: $55,097

Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore (salary)

> Annual salary in national currency: 2.4 million Singapore dollars
> Time in office: 11 years 7 months
> GDP per capita: $83,066

Methodology

24/7 Wall St. reviewed publicly available annual compensation figures for current leaders in 20 of the world’s wealthiest nations based on 2014 GDP per capita as calculated by the International Monetary Fund. Salaries are expressed in U.S. dollars converted from country of origin currencies as of March 18, 2016. Leaders of absolute monarchies such as Qatar, Brunei Darussalam, and Saudi Arabia were excluded from our list. Constitutional monarchies were included, except where the highest ranking officials have the power to appoint the government. In such cases, including Kuwait, Bahrain, and United Arab Emirates, state leadership compensation is often not public information. The head of state is by definition the highest-ranking official in a sovereign nation. However, in cases where the head of government is paid a higher salary, she or he was listed instead. In these cases, the head of state is also frequently acknowledged as a ceremonial position and the head of government holds greater power over national affairs. The identities and dates of election or appointment of these leaders was obtained from national government websites when available or from the United Nations.

Click here to see the 20 highest-paid world leaders.

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