Though women still have a long way to go in terms of equality in salaries and other aspects of the business world, a group of the wealthiest in the group seems to be on the uptick. A new report shows that the female billionaire population has grown 560% over the past two decades.
A study by UBS and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that a record 145 women around the world are now billionaires, compared with just 22 in 1995. Oprah Winfrey is among women of African descent among this group as well as Nigerian oil industry power woman Folorunsho Alakija.
The industries where this wealth is being built is real estate, industrial, and healthcare.
Eighty percent of the world’s female billionaires are based in the U.S. and Europe, but most of the women have inherited their riches. The report also found that new wealth creation is increasingly shifting to Asia, and there, more than half of female billionaires are first-generation entrepreneurs.
“The rise of female and Asian billionaires over the last two decades is creating an entirely new billionaire demographic, and I see no signs of slowing,” said Josef Stadler, head of Global Ultra High Net Worth, UBS. “While there is no such thing as a typical billionaire, virtually all are focused on building a lasting legacy for future generations. Achieving this goal increasingly requires strategic thought and long-term planning.”
The number of male billionaires (1,202) is growing at a slower rate, but this group of the wealthiest in the world is still largely dominated by men, which account for almost 90%.
Overall, the world’s wealthiest are getting richer much faster than the global economy. In the past two decades, billionaires’ wealth has increased eightfold to $5.4 trillion in 2014, while global GDP has tripled to more than $77 trillion.
More key findings:
- Female billionaires are driving their families’ businesses, with 57% being located in the U.S., 63% in Europe and 96% in Asia serving as active wealth creators.
- There’s a high attrition rate of billionaires: Only 44% or 126 of 1995’s billionaires have sustained the status over the past 20 years.
- Those who have sustained their status grew their assets from an average of $2.9 billion to $11 billion, outperforming both equity markets and global GDP.
- Billionaires see regulation and tax as current key challenges to maintaining their legacy.
The report is based on PwC data on more than 1,300 billionaires around the globe, along with many interviews with the world’s elite.