Angelina Jolie and Bill Gates reign supreme as world's most admired 2016

Angelina Jolie and Bill Gates reign supreme as world's most admired 2016

Angelina Jolie and Bill Gates are the most admired man and woman in the world once again according to the latest YouGov World’s Most Admired study across 30 countries.

It’s clear to see the power of humanitarianism is standing strong when it comes to world admiration in 2016. Hollywood beauty and human rights activist Jolie reigns supreme for the second year running both globally and in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Meanwhile internet tycoon and notorious charity and foundation supporter Gates leads share of admiration in the world overall for the third consecutive year since the study launched in 2014.  

The rest of YouGov’s third World’s Most Admired results tells a story of movement further down the ranks in 2016 as Stephen Hawking and Vladimir Putin push Narendra Modi and Pope Francis out of the men's top ranks.

Queen Elizabeth II takes Malala Yousafzai's place as the world's second most admired woman – the longest reigning monarch places in the top five in 17 countries overall.

Thanks in part to a rise from 9th place to 4th in China, which makes up almost a third of the population of the 30 countries polled, Russian President Vladimir Putin is the biggest riser since 2015, moving from 11th to 5th overall. Stephen Hawking, boosted by box office hit biopic The Theory of Everything, rises to 5th place from 9th worldwide.

Taking local figures out of the picture Putin also ranks highly in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Morocco. The biggest fallers on the male side compared to last year are Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was likely riding high in 2015 during his first year in the post, and Pope Francis – the biggest mover of all, who drops from sixth to 13th.

Xi Jingping ranks highly because of huge support in populous China, however Barack Obama has the most widespread admiration. In the list of global-only figures the US President ranks first in six countries and second in eight (Jinping is in the top ten in only two of 30 countries). Only in one country, Russia, is Obama not in the top ten.

Hillary Clinton remains the third most admired woman, boosting her presidential bid with a show of global admiration nearly equal to Obama's. In the vast expanses of India and China she places first (ahead of Malala Yousafzai) and second (ahead of Angelina Jolie), respectively.

Malala Yousafzai is the biggest faller on the women's side, however this indicates less a fall out of admiration than a fall out of the news. In Sweden, the country which bestowed on her the Nobel Peace prize in 2014, she ranks first and in Britain, Norway, India and Pakistan she ranks second.

Local figures and methodology

In December YouGov gathered open-ended nominations from panellists across 30 countries, asking them simply: “Thinking about people alive in the world today, which [man or woman] do you most admire?” These nominations were then used to compile a list of the 20 men and 20 women who received the most nominations and were nominated in at least 2 countries. An additional 10 popular local figures were added to the lists for individual countries. 

In January we then used the lists to poll each of the 30 countries asking two questions: “who do you truly admire?”, where respondents could make multiple selections, and “who do you MOST admire?”, where they could only pick one. These two numbers were combined into a percentage share of admiration, displayed to the right of each name in the first graphic and table below, which shows the full results for every country including local celebrities and public figures:

Numbers show the percentage share of admiration for each person in 30 countries worldwide

Choose a country to see the most admired people worldwide



By asking respondents two questions, we can understand both the breadth (i.e. global reach) and the intensity of a person's support.

Altogether, we polled in countries that constitute nearly two-thirds of the world's population. However, some parts of the world were better represented than others, so we weighted up the impact certain countries had on the final scores and weighted down others so the global scores more accurately reflect the breakdown of sentiment in the world overall.

All of the surveys were conducted online, and in many of the countries the internet penetration is low to the point where the sample can only be said to be representative to the online population. The countries where the online population is lower than 60% of the total are Morocco, China, Mexico, Egypt, South Africa, Philippines, India, Thailand, Indonesia and Pakistan.

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