It’s Official: The Rich Are Getting Richer

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The world’s billionaires’ club swelled last year, hitting a record 2,473 billionaires — a 6.4 increase from 2014, according to Wealth-X’s annual Billionaire Census.

If you combine their massive riches, those billionaires hold a record-breaking amount of the world’s wealth, at $7.7 trillion.

To put that number into perspective, the billionaires’ $7.7 trillion in wealth trails only the New York Stock Exchange ($17 trillion) in terms of equity market capitalizations, and only the United States ($17.9 trillion) and China ($11 trillion) in terms of gross domestic products.

Wealth-X noted there is “only one billionaire for every 2.95 million people on the planet.” But the report added:

Although the overall size of the billionaire population is small, the impact of billionaires on the global economy is significant.

Nearly one-third (32.6 percent) of the world’s ultrawealthy — 806 people — reside in Europe, while 628 billionaires (25.4 percent) call North America home.

Here are some highlights from the report:

The gender gap is growing

Of the 148 new billionaires added in 2015, all but eight were men. Among all of the world’s billionaires last year, for every one woman there were 8.4 men; that’s up from a ratio of 8.1 to 1 in 2014.

According to Wealth-X:

Female billionaires are still more likely to inherit their wealth than males. However, they are increasingly using this inheritance as seed capital to pursue their own endeavors.

Billionaires are predominantly self-made

The number of billionaires who inherited their wealth dropped by roughly 29 percent between 2014 and 2015, from 453 to 323. According to Wealth-X:

Global billionaires are predominantly self-made, with over 55 percent of the total population sourcing their wealth from fruitful business ventures or successful investments.

Harvard wins the education battle

Harvard University is the most popular university for billionaires. It awards twice as many degrees to future billionaires as Stanford University, the second most popular college for the world’s ultrawealthy.

For more, check out “5 Ways to Join the Billionaires’ Club.”

Are you surprised at how many billionaires are self-made? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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