**Global Billionaire Population Declines in 2022**
The number of global billionaires fell for the first time since 2018 due to various factors, including the war in Ukraine, surging inflation, and tensions between the US and China. According to data from Altrata’s annual billionaire census, the billionaire population decreased by 3.5% to 3,194 individuals. These billionaires collectively lost $11.1 trillion in wealth. The census is based on information from the Wealth-X database, which is the largest collection of research on the wealthy.
**Billionaire Wealth Surge During the Pandemic**
In the years following the pandemic, there was a significant surge in billionaire wealth. From 2020-2021, the world’s top 1% gained $28 trillion, as reported by Oxfam. US billionaires saw their wealth increase by one-third during this period. This surge was primarily driven by the booming stock market, which benefited from low interest rates and increased government spending.
**Decline in Billionaire Wealth in 2022**
However, the Wealth-X report reveals that the total wealth of the billionaire population decreased by 5.5% in 2022, marking the second largest annual decline in a decade. North America, which is home to approximately one-third of all billionaires, experienced a 2.3% decrease in its billionaire population, with 1,011 individuals remaining. Asia witnessed the most significant decline, with a 7.1% decrease in its billionaire population, leaving only 835 individuals. Asian billionaires also experienced the largest decrease in wealth, losing 9% of their total holdings. The Middle East and Latin America were the only regions that saw an increase in billionaire wealth in 2022, with growth rates of 7.2% and 4.4%, respectively.
**Billionaire Distribution and Growth in Superstar Cities**
Despite the overall decrease in Asia’s billionaire population, Singapore was the top-ranked city in terms of billionaire population growth, gaining 54 more billionaires in 2022. Billionaires continue to be concentrated in superstar cities, with New York, Hong Kong, and San Francisco having the highest numbers at 136, 112, and 84 billionaires, respectively.
**Variations in Billionaires’ Wealth by Industry**
The report reveals significant disparities in wealth accumulation or loss among billionaires based on their industry. Those in the technology, healthcare, and energy sectors experienced a loss of over 5% in their wealth. In contrast, billionaires in the aerospace, shipping, construction, and food and beverage industries generally saw an increase in their wealth. Older billionaires also fared better than their younger counterparts, with those over 70 only losing an average of 2.2% of their assets compared to the 5.5% average for the overall population.
**Post-Pandemic Trends and Sector Resilience**
Post-pandemic trends strongly influenced the resilience or vulnerability of different sectors. Food and beverage businesses managed to stay afloat due to their status as consumer staples with strong profit margins. Shipping billionaires benefited from the recovery of the global trade economy and the normalization of supply chains. The war in Ukraine also had an impact on wealth accumulation in the defense sector, as it increased the demand for military equipment production.
**Gender and Generational Gaps among Billionaires**
The gender disparity among billionaires remains significant, with women making up only 12.5% of all billionaires. However, the percentage of women is higher in the younger billionaire age brackets, accounting for 17.9% of billionaires under 50. The census attributes this slow-changing gender split to factors such as diversifying global wealth markets, the growth of female entrepreneurship, evolving cultural attitudes, and inter-generational wealth transfers.
**Shifts in Industries of Young and Older Billionaires**
There are notable differences in the industries where billionaires of different age groups have made their fortunes. While banking and finance is the primary sector for billionaires across all three age brackets (under 50, 50-70, and 70+), the younger billionaires show a greater presence in the technology industry. In contrast, technology does not even rank among the top five industries for billionaires aged 70 and older. Moreover, industrial conglomerates, the second-ranked industry for older billionaires, do not feature in the top five industries for young billionaires. This difference signals a significant shift in how the world’s richest individuals accumulate their wealth, with technology becoming a prominent source of wealth, especially with the emergence of artificial intelligence.
In summary, the number of global billionaires decreased in 2022 due to various economic factors. The overall decline in billionaire wealth was influenced by regional variations, with Asia experiencing the most substantial decrease. Superstar cities continue to attract billionaires, while different industries witnessed divergent trends in wealth accumulation. Gender disparities among billionaires persist but show signs of change in younger age brackets. Furthermore, the industries that young and older billionaires thrive in indicate a shift in the sources of wealth generation.