Global billionaire wealth shot up by 24% to a record $9.2 trillion last year, and the billionaire population increased by 15% to 2,754 individuals, surpassing the previous peak of 2,473 in 2015, Wealth-X, a wealth information and insight business, reported this week.
This represented a big rise over 2016, when the billionaire population decreased by 3.1% to 2,397 individuals and their combined wealth fell by 3.7% to $7.4 trillion.
Last year, the number of female billionaires rose by 18% to 321, outpacing the 14.5% growth in the male billionaire population and increasing women’s share of the global billionaire population to 11.7%.
In addition, Wealth-X noted a steady increase in the number of female billionaires whose net worth can be attributed to both inheritance and self-made wealth creation, implying a greater degree of risk-taking entrepreneurialism.
According to the census, 56.8% of global billionaires are self-made, 13.2% inherited their wealth and 30% built their fortunes in part on inherited wealth.
Wealth-X said strong equity market performance and relatively stable exchange rates against the U.S. dollar drove growth in billionaire wealth globally last year.
The global billionaire population expanded at a healthy rate across all regions in 2017, led by Asia/Pacific’s 29%, well ahead of 11% expansion in the Americas and 9% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
According to the census, Asia’s total billionaire population now stands at 784 individuals, for the first time overtaking North America’s 727 billionaires.
Asia/Pacific billionaires’ wealth increased by almost 50%, a huge turnaround following modest declines in 2016. Asia/Pacific wealth outperformed that of the Americas, which increased by 22%, and EMEA, which increased by 12%.