The number of billionaires on the planet hit a record high this year

A new report from data company Wealth-X shows that the world’s billionaires enjoyed a sharp increase both in number and wealth over the past year.

The world has more billionaires than ever. (Image: Public Domain)
Photo credit: SAUL LOEB / AFP / Getty Images

At a count of 2,754, there are now more billionaires on the planet than in any other time in history, according to a new report from wealth data company Wealth-X.

The world's billionaire class now controls about $9.2 trillion in wealth, a 24 percent increase from 2016. The U.S. has the world's highest billionaire count with 680—accounting for 25 percent of the world's total—and was followed by China, which has 338. Asia saw the greatest uptick in billionaires and total wealth by region, though the report attributes most of that growth to Hong Kong and China.

In total, the world's richest 1 percent owns about half of the world's wealth.

Across the globe, the number of female billionaires rose more quickly than men over the past year, though male billionaires still outnumber females by a factor of eight. Male and female billionaires also acquired their wealth differently, in the women were much more likely than men to become billionaires through inheritance.


Wealth-X attributes the increase of ultra-wealthy individuals to a powerful global technology sector, economic growth in Asian countries, and, in general, a “synchronized upturn in the world economy and climbing equity markets."


The 2018 Billionaire Census reported several trends among the global billionaire class:

  • Billionaire wealth grew at a much faster pace than population size across all regions.
  • While the U.S. remained the dominant force for this increase, six of the top ten countries recorded faster growth than the US in their respective billionaire populations.
  • A growing trend for billionaires to give more, with significant portions of the population focusing at least part of their philanthropic activity on education, health and social causes, as well as art and cultural organizations.

So, who's the richest of the rich? In 2017, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos surpassed Bill Gates to become the world's richest person, with an estimated net worth of $112 billion. Bezos is followed by Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and fashion designer Bernard Arnault.

As billionaires around the world get richer, the median wealth of all U.S. households—$97,300 in 2016—hasn't completely recovered from the Great Recession, before which the median was $139,700.

Scientists see 'rarest event ever recorded' in search for dark matter

The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.

Image source: Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
  • The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
  • The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
Keep reading Show less

What we want from horror is a cardiac jump-start, study suggests

A study looks at the ingredients of a good scare.

Credit: Nathan Wright/Unsplash
Mind & Brain
  • Researchers from a Danish Recreational Fear Lab investigate fear's Goldilocks zone.
  • People love a good fright that stops short of being genuinely worrisome.
  • The study tracks the heart rates of haunted-house visitors.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Fireball meteorite offers clues to origins of life

    A meteorite that smashed into a frozen lake in Michigan may explain the origins of life on Earth, finds study.

    Security camera footage of the fireball in the sky over Toledo, Ohio. | Meteorite hunter Robert Ward shows the meteorite on Strawberry Lake by Hamburg, Michigan.

    Credit: T. Masterson and the American Meteor Society | Robert Ward
    Surprising Science
    • A new paper reveals a meteorite that crashed in Michigan in 2018 contained organic matter.
    • The findings support the panspermia theory and could explain the origins of life on Earth.
    • The organic compounds on the meteorite were well-preserved.
    Keep reading Show less
    Scroll down to load more…
    Quantcast