The world’s billionaire population continues to swell, despite the uber wealthy taking a hit to their bank balances last year, a new study has found.
There are now some 2,101 billionaires globally — 589 individuals (or 38.9%) more than five years ago, according to UBS’s 2019 Billionaire Insights report.
Over that same five-year period, their combined wealth grew by more than a third (34.5%) to reach a total of $8.5 trillion. The report covers the years 2013 to 2018.
Total billionaire wealth fell for the first time in five years during 2018 on the back of “a strong U.S. dollar, trade friction, fears of lower economic growth, and financial market volatility,” the Swiss bank found. Even still, billionaire wealth remained up $2.2 trillion from 2013.
American billionaires were the only ones who did not suffer a dip in 2018, with their wealth nudging up 0.1%. As of year-end, the region was home to some 749 billionaires with a combined wealth of $3.6 trillion.
The Asia Pacific region, however, remained home to the world’s greatest number of billionaires. With 754 billionaires, whose combined wealth totalled $2.5 trillion, the region represents 36% of the global billionaire population.
Within that, China accounts for 43% of the region’s billionaires. India makes up 14%, Hong Kong 9% and Japan just 4%.
In Europe, the Middle East and Africa’s billionaire population fell 5% last year to 598 individuals, whose combined wealth totalled $2.4 trillion.
The report also highlighted a notable uptick in the number of women joining the ranks. There are now 233 female billionaires globally, up 46% from the 160 recorded in 2013 and outpacing the 39% rate of growth displayed by their male counterparts over that period.
That growth was led largely by women in Asia and women entrepreneurs.
“While Asia continues to be seen as having more traditionally male-dominated cultures, it is heartening to see that the number of female billionaire has grown to more than double over the last five years,” Julia Leong, partner and private banking lead, noted in the report.