The number of billionaires grew by 7 percent over the past year, but the number of billionaires crossing the $10 billion threshold remains a rarified event.
According to the 2014 Billionaire Census published by Wealth X and UBS, there are 2,325 billionaires throughout the world today holding a collective wealth of $7.3 trillion. But despite growing their wealth by 12 percent since 2013, billionaires’ portfolios have underperformed, the report found.
The average billionaire is 63-years-old. But an increasing number of wealth transfers are enlarging the size of the total billionaire population, a trend that’s expected to continue.
Men make up 87.5 percent of billionaires, women only 12.3 percent. Additionally most men (60 percent) are self-made billionaires, while most women earned their billions through inheritance (65.4 percent) and only 17.1 percent of women are self-made billionaires.
But while there are fewer women billionaires, the study expects their number to rise. Of this year's female billionaires, less than 60 percent have fully inherited their wealth. The top country for self-made women billionaires to reside in is the U.S., followed by China and Hong Kong.
Higher education is not the only way toward amassing a fortune. A little over a third of the world's billionaires did not earn a bachelor's degree. Among universities, the University of Pennsylvania has the highest number of undergraduate alumni (25) in the billionaires' club. Harvard University comes in second (22 undergraduate alumni) and Yale University in third with 20 undergraduate alumni. But out of the top 20 schools with the highest number of alumni who are billionaires, only 16 percent of the world's billionaires with bachelor's degrees attended these schools, 84 percent earned their degree elsewhere.
According to the report, there could be over 4,100 billionaires by 2020 (an increase of 78 percent) in the best-case scenario. A conservative timeline puts the population growing to about 3,600 billionaires by 2020, a net increase of 56 percent.
There was a net gain of 155 new billionaires over the past year, an overwhelming majority of which (91 percent) are worth between $1 billion and $2 billion. There was no net gain of billionaires worth over $5 billion and less than 5 percent of the world's total billionaires are worth more than $10 billion.
A majority of today's billionaires are self-made, 1,273 of the world's total 2,325. More than 48 percent of billionaires have founded or co-founded their own companies. Self-made billionaires also have a greater share of the wealth held by this group, a whopping $4.1 trillion out of a total of $7.3 trillion. Within the past year, the share of the world's billionaires who inherited all of their wealth decreased to below 20 percent of all billionaires, making up $1.5 trillion of the total wealth held by billionaires.