The combined wealth of the world's billionaires, defined as individuals with a net worth of $1 billion or above, increased by 5.4% to a record $7.7 trillion, according to Wealth-X's 2015-2016 billionaire census.  By comparison, the gross domestic product of the U.S. is around $17 trillion. The world's billionaire population grew by 6.4% to 2,473 in 2015.


Europe, the Middle East and Africa are still the regional group with the most billionaires (1,013) while the Americas come in second with 782 billionaires. The Asia-Pacific region is poised to take over the Americas, Mr. Barks says. With 678 billionaires, Asia-Pacific produced four times more billionaires than the Americas during 2015.


As baby boomers transfer their wealth to the younger generation, more heirs are becoming billionaires and adding to the ranks. Billionaires with partially inherited wealth continue to be the fastest growing segment of this population, up 29.9% year-on-year, the census found.


For most billionaires, however, it takes more than an inheritance to join the so-called three-comma club, according to the census; 87% of billionaires, up from 81% in 2014, made the majority of their fortunes themselves.

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