What do the president of Russia, Pope Francis and the hoodie-wearing CEO of Facebook all have in common? They’re all featured on Forbes’ 2013 ranking of the World’s Most Powerful People, an annual snapshot of the heads of state, financiers, philanthropists and entrepreneurs who truly run the world.
With 7.2 billion people living on our planet, the list represents the collective wisdom of top Forbes editors, who consider hundreds of nominees before ranking the planet’s 72 power brokers — one for every 100 million on Earth. Their power is measured along four dimensions.
First criteria is whether the candidate has power over lots of people. Pope Francis' rank is 4 as he is the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, or about 1/6th of the world’s population. His predecessor Pope Benedict XVI was the fifth most powerful person in 2012 according to the same ranking.
Next, the financial resources controlled by each person is assessed. Are they relatively large compared to their peers? For heads of state GDP is used, while for CEOs, their company’s assets and revenues. When candidates have a high personal net worth, it is also taken into consideration. In certain instances, other valuable resources at the candidate’s disposal are taken into consideration like oil reserves.
Lastly, the active use of power is checked. President Vladimir Putin scored the highest points in 2013 because he so frequently shows his strength at home and on the global stage . President Barack Obama, president of the most dominant country in the world, comes in at No. 2, followed by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China, and Pope Francis. The fifth most powerful person in the world also happens to be the most powerful woman: Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, down from No. 2 last year.
To calculate the final rankings, Forbes editors ranks all candidates in each of these four dimensions of power, and those individual rankings are averaged into a composite score.