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The number of billionaires and their wealth hit record levels

·Former Correspondent

There are now more billionaires in the world than ever before, according to the latest edition of the Wealth-X Billionaire Census.

The population of these extremely wealthy individuals grew at an astonishing rate of 15% last year. As of the end of 2017, there were 2,754 billionaires worldwide, surpassing the peak of 2,473 last seen in 2015.

What’s more, the population growth of billionaires grew at a faster clip than those entering the ultra high net worth category, meaning those with $30 million or more in net worth.

Most of the growth among these billionaires occurred amid a backdrop of synchronized global growth and booming stock markets with low volatility, according to the report.

Breaking it down by region, the Asia-Pacific saw a 29% increase in its billionaire population, compared to 11% growth in the Americas and 9% in EMEA. As a result, Asia has surpassed North America for the first time as the home to the most billionaires, with 784 individuals in Asia compared to 727 in North America.

The population of billionaires grew 15% last year.
The population of billionaires grew 15% last year.

What’s more, the overall wealth of these billionaires grew by 24%, bringing the collective net worth to $9.2 trillion. The billionaires in the Asia-Pacific saw the most considerable growth in their wealth, increasing almost 50% in 2017, versus the 22% seen in the Americas and 12% in EMEA. The growth among Asia’s billionaires came primarily from China, Hong Kong, and India.

On a city level, most of the world’s billionaires reside in New York City, followed by Hong Kong, San Francisco (including the Bay Area), Moscow, London, Beijing, Singapore, Dubai, Mumbai, and Shenzhen.

The universities that have produced the most billionaires include Harvard, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, MIT, Cornell, Yale, University of Southern California, University of Chicago, and the University of Michigan.

In terms of industry focus, finance/banking/investment continues to have the most significant share of billionaires, followed by industrial conglomerates, real estate, manufacturing, and technology. However, the average wealth of technology-focused billionaires is $6 billion compared, which is almost double the average wealth from the other sectors.

Another noteworthy highlight is that the number of female billionaires grew by 18%, outpacing the 14.5% growth in the male billionaire population. Women now make up 11.7% of the billionaires worldwide. Most of the billionaire women inherited their wealth, with 16.9% of women being self-made compared to 62% of male billionaires.

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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