Chinese Billionaires Are World's Youngest, Middle Eastern Billionaires Are Biggest Spenders

  • Buffett Warren 2013 Getty
    Senior editor-at-large at Fortune magazine Carol Loomis and Warren Buffett speak onstage at a Fortune summit on Oct. 16, 2013, in Washington, D.C. Getty Images
  • Billionaire Warren Buffett
    Billionaire financier and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett. Reuters
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The United States is home to 515 billionaires with a  net worth of $2.064 trillion. China’s 157 billionaires are worth just $384 billion, but their average age is just 53 – 12 years younger than their American counterparts.

Total billionaire wealth in Asia has increased by 13 percent, the fastest of any region since last year. Asia also added 18 new billionaires last year – the most of any region, according to a recent survey of 12 countries by Singapore-based Wealth-X, which provides research on the worldwide population of people with assets of more than $30 million,

“Asia is the region that is driving the tectonic shifts in wealth,” the report reads.

Globally, 60 percent of all billionaires didn’t inherit their wealth, but made their own fortunes. In China, this rate is among the highest, with 89 percent of billionaires classified as “self-made.” In the U.S., self-made billionaires include Bill Gates, William Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management, Eli Broad and Warren Buffet.

The most common source of billionaire wealth in China is real estate, but this could be a problem in the years to come.  

“The threat of a real estate bubble in China could have a negative impact on Chinese billionaires in the future,” the report reads.

Chinese billionaires are 91 percent male. It’s one of the highest rates in the world, though India and the United Arab Emirates both rank higher at 97 percent. Meanwhile in the Netherlands, 35 percent of all billionaires are female – the highest rate worldwide.   

Among the top 10 richest billionaires, Linda Wolf, director of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) is the only woman; she has a net worth of $131 billion.

Europe has the highest population of billionaires. But of the 766 people, 25 percent inherited their fortune.

“The notion of old money pervading Europe is well-founded,” reads the report. Only Latin American billionaires inherited more wealth.

New York City has 96 billionaires, the highest number in the world. But Hong Kong and Moscow follow closely, with 75 and 74, respectively.

The report showed that the average billionaire spends $22 million on yachts and $16 million on planes, but these numbers spike in the Middle East.

“Middle Eastern billionaires are big spenders,” the report reads.

“The average number of real estate, yachts and private planes they own is the highest in the world.” 

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