The World’s Most Lucrative Business Markets

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What global business markets make people the most money? It depends. If following the law and paying taxes plays a role, oil, weapons, and alcohol are decent bets.

For those who prefer the black market side of things, however, you can’t beat illegal products like drugs and counterfeits.

We’ve combined the best of the world’s legal and black markets to provide a list of the world’s most lucrative business markets.

Note: We determined this list based on the size of the market (hundreds of billions to trillions), the proportion of profits to revenues, and industry growth.

Some markets have matured, but have the market size necessary for this list; others are still smallish, but growing so rapidly and profitably that we included them, too.

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  • L Howard

    Interesting that you didn’t put ‘human trafficking’ and ‘prostitution’ into the same category – seeming something like 80% of human trafficking is in the sex industry

  • darklooshkin

    Drug laws are the biggest organised crime subsidy ever.

  • I find it weird that all of these seem to be connected in one way or another. except for oil

  • hans Gruber

    Actually, the author is correct in grouping “human trafficking” and prostitution separately. The truth is that the majority, 95% ,of human trafficking is to sweatshops,field workers,and construction-NOT THE SEX industry- as erroneously stated by comment above!
    The author does fall into the mistake of believing that sex workers are ” sex slave earns her pimp ” in actuality the majority of women do this by choice and although pimps get 60% of profits women get their own salaries.Sadly, there are cases of sex slavery and abuse- but in practice is lower that the case of sexual and physical abuse which women experience in marriages/families by the hands of own husbands and/or fathers.

  • Ralph

    That’s why capitalism is killing human beings. If the problem is lack of money,don’t worry people in 30 years time everybody in the world will have loads of money but there won’t be any food or clean drinking water around to use!

  • juandeDios

    you gçforgot Religion Religion Software Politics

  • Girish

    These staggering figures are mindbogling, especially for criminal and immoral activity.

  • Lisa P

    What about INSURANCE? Whenever you go into the city and you look up and wonder ‘what’s that ginourmous shiny building – it’s most likely an insurance company.

  • Braddon

    Actually and in respose to Hans Gruber’s contention that prostitutes get to keep 40% of their profits, your high dude, you don’t know what your talking about. The prostitutes I have come into contact with, who I have arrested and/or investigated get to keep very little if any of their profits. The pimp gives them no choice, they have to make a certain amount every night without question or they don’t get to come home and if they do, they got a beating waiting for them. You try to make it sound like a job that these girls apply for, which is a dangerous viewpoint, but you are right about one thing, alot of them do this by choice, however, when you have a 12 year old runaway who comes into contact with a pimp and allows herself to become exploited she won’t tell on her pimp and she will maintain her occupation because it is all that is available to her in her mind, and the pimp becomes a mentor of sorts as well as a lover in most cases, its not a hard choice to make when it is the ONLY choice to make from a survival standpoint, most all of the prostitutes I have known who actually willingly do it for a living don’t have pimps, why would they, they already have one a-hole, they don’t need another, why should they give their money away to a loud mouthed jerk off, girls with pimps are absolutely exploited, trafficked and given no choice other than to perform or get beat, I’ve arrested prostitutes who were beaten so bad by their pimps and were still working, I helped one out once who had clothing iron burns all over her body and she still wouldnt rat on the bastard because of the fear she had, now tell me it was her choice to be with him. The ho’s without pimps are professional criminals, and they don’t give their money to ANYBODY, but if they are observed working by a pimp, he will beat their ass, but the pro’s will still find a way to do it, why wouldnt they, when they are making 5000 – 10000 a week, its economics and its important you make the distinction. Stop Human Trafficking, Child exploitation and Slavery.

  • Braddon

    Another thing Hans, your statistics are flawed, the human sex trafficking industry is a multi billion dollar industry, you can by an 18 year old virgin on the market right now for $800,000, this problem crosses all demographs, all social classes, all neighborhoods and all countries, even the US. Do some research, I know it is a cause alot of caring people can gt behind.

  • Ashwin

    How does Banking not be at the top!!!
    Religion should be second on the list as an illegal business.. since it doesn’t pay taxes!!

  • Excuse me but you forgot VIDEOGAMES. Billion dollar a week business!