The future — of extreme wealth — is female.
The number of female billionaires rose by 18 percent in 2017, whereas the male billionaire population rose by only 14.5 percent, according to wealth intelligence firm Wealth-X’s Billionaire Census 2018. Although there are still more billionaire men than women, the female share of the global billionaire population has risen to 11.7 percent.
Click to find out how the wealthiest women gained their fortunes.
The majority of female billionaires — 53.5 percent — inherited their wealth, whereas 16.9 percent are self-made. The remainder gained their wealth through a combination of the two. Although inheritance still makes up the largest share of the wealth source for females, the number of women who are billionaires due to a combination of inheritance and self-made wealth has been increasing.
“Among the female billionaire population there has been a steady rise in the share whose net worth can be attributed both to inheritance and to self-made wealth creation, implying a greater degree of risk-taking entrepreneurialism,” the survey said. “The growth of the billionaire class in Asia and other emerging markets has been a key driver of this trend.”
In contrast to female billionaire wealth sources, the majority of male billionaires — 62 percent — are self-made, whereas only about 8 percent are billionaires due to inheritance. Overall, 56.8 percent of billionaires of both genders are self-made, 13.2 percent inherited their wealth and 30 percent are billionaires due to a combination of the two.
The Wealth-X census also found that the billionaire population and its wealth reached record levels in 2017. There are now 2,754 individuals who are billionaires, with their wealth totaling $9.2 trillion. This growth in billionaires occurred across all regions, with Asia seeing the largest jump in its billionaire population — particularly in China and India. There are now more billionaires in Asia than in North America for the first time.
A positive trend noted by the study is that billionaires are giving back more. There are now 175 individuals across 22 countries who have signed the Giving Pledge — a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to giving back — and Wealth-X predicts that the value of those pledges could be as high as $600 billion by 2022.
Click to read about jobs where women make more than men.