More than 10 percent of the world’s nearly three thousand billionaires made a philanthropic commitment in support of COVID-19 response and relief efforts between January and May, a report from Wealth-X finds.
According to the Billionaire Census 2020 (33 pages, PDF), billionaires who have donated or pledged support to help address the impacts of the pandemic were more likely than other billionaire philanthropists to be in the tech industry (15.7 percent vs. 9.1 percent) and were more likely to be under the age of 50 (14.9 percent vs. 9.6 percent), to be self-made (71.3 percent vs. 61.3 percent), and to be wealthier (with an average net worth of $11.4 billion vs. $8 billion). The share of women was larger among COVID-19 donors (11.3 percent vs. 10.3 percent), and those women were more likely to be self-made (29 percent vs. 12 percent) than other female billionaire philanthropists. At the same time, the study found that those who inherited their wealth — 12.4 percent of all billionaires — were more likely than self-made billionaires to list philanthropy as a top interest (63.3 percent vs. 50.2 percent).
The seventh edition of the annual study also found that the number of billionaires globally rose 8.5 percent in 2019, to 2,825, while their combined wealth grew 10.3 percent, to $9.4 trillion. The largest increases in both numbers and wealth were seen in North America (11.2 percent and 13.8 percent) and Asia (12 percent and 11 percent), with China accounting for nearly 30 percent of global billionaires and 26 percent of their collective wealth.
Unlike previous editions, the latest installment explores the economic impact of COVID-19 on high-net-worth individuals. The study found, for example, that the number of billionaires in technology, insurance, business services, and healthcare sectors increased between 6.6 percent and 8.4 percent during the first five months of 2020 on a year-over-year basis, while their combined net worth increased between 4.6 percent and 17.9 percent. Over the same five-month period, the number of billionaires in the shipping, media, apparel, and aerospace industries declined between 7.7 percent and 16.6 percent, while their wealth fell between 5.2 percent and 53.7 percent.