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The region’s billionaire population shot up by almost a third last year (29.2 percent) to 784 individuals, Wealth-X’s Billionaire Census 2018 found. North America, meanwhile, experienced more modest gains of 11.2 percent, taking the number of billionaires who reside there to 727.
The uptick marks the first time Asia’s billionaire population has exceeded that of North America.
To be sure, the U.S. remains the country with the greatest number of billionaires – 680 individuals – but the increase in Asia marks a broader shift in regional wealth trends.
Asia is now home to 28.5 percent of the world’s 2,754 billionaires, slipping in just behind Europe, which is top with 29.8 percent.
North America now ranks as the world’s third most populous continent for billionaires — moving down from second place — staking claim to 26.4 percent.
The Middle East is home to the fourth largest proportion, with 6.9 percent, while Latin America and the Caribbean house 5.7 percent. The number of billionaires in Africa and the Pacific both fall under 2 percent.
In the past year, the total amount of wealth in Asia also shot up by a greater degree than any other region in the world.
Wealth in the region grew by 49.4 percent in 2017 to $2.3 trillion, well ahead of the gains of North America’s 22.8 percent and Europe’s 14.9 percent.
The sudden surge was led largely by China, which alone saw its billionaire wealth swell by 61 percent to $1.1 trillion.
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