Wealth of world’s billionaires grew 20% last year: UBS, PwC report

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Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma attends 2018 Alibaba Xin Philanthropy Conference on September 5, 2018.

The total wealth of global billionaires grew to $8.9 trillion in 2017, an increase of more than 19 percent from the previous year, according to a study released Friday by UBS and PwC.

China’s ultra-wealthy are driving that trend, the report said, adding two new billionaires per week last year, and growing at a rate almost double that of the Americas and Europe; in Asia as a whole, three people a week saw their net worth cross the $1 billion mark.

“Over the past five years (2012–2017), the sum passed by deceased billionaires to beneficiaries has grown by an average of 17% each year, to reach USD 117 billion in 2017. In that year alone, 44 heirs inherited more than a billion dollars each (56% Americas, 28% EMEA, 16% APAC), totalling USD 189 billion (the discrepancy with USD 117 billion is assumed due to growth of assets in probate and revaluation of assets),” the report said.

But another key demographic is growing. The number of female billionaires grew to 2,158 in 2017, up 9 percent from 1,979 in the previous year. While women still represent a small portion of the total number of billionaires overall — 11 percent — their rise could indicate a steady shift in wealth creation.

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