Millionaires & Billionaires

Number of billionaires hits record high in 2014

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The world economy is going through a rough patch, yet the world's billionaire population is at an all-time high.

A new survey shows that 155 new billionaires were minted this year, pushing the total population to a record 2,325 – a 7 percent increase from 2013.

Credit goes to the United States – home to the most billionaires globally – where 57 new billionaires were recorded this year, according to the Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2014 released on Wednesday.

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Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean were also large contributors, with 52 and 42 new entrants, respectively.

"The fastest growing segment of the billionaire population, in terms of wealth source, are those who inherited only part of their fortunes and became billionaires through their own entrepreneurial endeavors," the report said, noting that 63 percent of all billionaires' primary companies are privately held.

Billionaire populations in emerging markets showed mixed signals however.

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In Africa, billionaires' total wealth grew, but the overall number of billionaires decreased, due primarily to volatile socio-political conditions. A similar situation occurred in the Middle East.

Nevertheless, the combined wealth of the world's billionaires increased by 12 percent to $7.3 trillion, higher than the combined market capitalization of all the companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Profiling billionaires

The average billionaire is 63 years old, with a net worth of $3.1 billion, according to the report, which noted that most wealthy individuals do not reach the $1 billion threshold until their late forties.

Almost 90 percent of male billionaires are married, 6 percent are divorced, 3 percent are single and 2 percent widowed.

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For male billionaires the top five industries are finance and banking, industrial conglomerates, real estate, manufacturing and textiles, and apparel and luxury goods.

Sixty-five percent of female billionaires are married, 10 percent divorced, 4 percent single and 21 percent widowed.

They are involved in similar industries to their male peers, but one difference is that many run non-profit and social organizations.