Detailed Findings & Methodology
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 not available.
When looking at 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, the president is the head of state and holds more power than the head of government, who is the prime minister. The hierarchy is reversed in Germany, where the head of government is the chancellor, who holds the highest position of power over the country’s president.
Even if a country’s leaders are living like kings compared to their citizens, a government salary can’t compare with that of a chief executive officer in the private sector. Some leaders on this list entered government service from more lucrative careers in the business, legal, and entertainment worlds. Some are so rich that they forgo their salaries.
Even so, world leaders typically receive perks during their time in office — from security to travel expenses. And a nation’s leader is almost always provided a residence maintained with taxpayer money. As we’ve seen with former U.S. presidents and British prime ministers, they earn their biggest bucks after leaving office through lucrative book deals and speaking engagements.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed publicly available annual compensation figures for the 20 highest-paid leaders in the world as calculated by the International Monetary Fund. Salaries are expressed in U.S. dollars that were converted from country of origin currencies as of April 13, 2018. 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 often is not publicly disclosed. 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. The identities and dates of election or appointment of these leaders were obtained from CIA World Factbook, national government websites, or media sources.