Rich list

Most of the world’s female billionaires are heiresses – but in Asia, the majority are self-made

Overall, the number of female billionaires around the world has grown nearly seven times over the past two decades.

Most of the world’s female billionaires owe their fortunes to rich parents or husbands from whom they inherited their wealth. But not in Asia. On this continent, a majority of the small but growing number of female billionaires are self-made.

According to a new report, 52% of Asia’s female billionaires are first-generation entrepreneurs, not heiresses. In the US and Europe – home to 80% of the world’s female billionaires – just 19% and 7% respectively are self-made.

The report, conducted by PwC on behalf of Swiss bank UBS, analysed 19 years of data covering more than 1,300 billionaires in economies that account for 75% of the world’s billionaire wealth, including the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey, China, India, Japan, and Singapore.

The findings show that Asian women aren’t the only ones making names for themselves – in 2014, 66% of the world’s billionaires were self-made, compared with 43% in 1995. The bulk of these new billionaires – 47% – are based in the US, while Asia accounted for 36% of self-made billionaire wealth and Europe made up 17%.

“While US entrepreneurs have driven a global revolution in finance and technology, Asia’s tycoons have been key participants in the region’s accelerated industrial and consumer revolutions, with the building of mega-cities and increase in real estate prices,” the report notes.

Overall, the number of female billionaires around the world has grown nearly seven times over the last 20 years, rising from just 22 women in 1995 to 145 a year ago. They are still far outnumbered by men, though. The volume of male billionaires increased fivefold to 1,202 over the last two decades.

As the number of billionaires has grown, so too have their assets. The world’s billionaire wealth jumped from a combined $700 billion in 1995 to $5.4 trillion in 2014, the report showed.

This article was originally published on Quartz.

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