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A Rolls Royce car sits on display during the Chorleywood Classic & Supercar Show held near London July 27, 2013. Dozens of classic and super cars were exhibited on the local cricket field. REUTERS/Philip Brown (BRITAIN - Tags: TRANSPORT SOCIETY) - RTX121VY
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The good life, gotten on their own.
OWNING IT

Most of the world’s female billionaires are heiresses—but in this region, a majority are self-made

Ashley Rodriguez
By Ashley Rodriguez

Reporter

Most of the world’s female billionaires owe their fortunes to rich parents or husbands from whom they inherited their wealth. But not in Asia. There, a majority of the small but growing number of female billionaires are self-made.

According to a new report, 52% of Asia’s female billionaires are first-generation entrepreneurs, not heiresses. In the US and Europe—home to 80% of the world’s female billionaires—just 19% and 7% respectively are self-made.

The report, conducted by PwC on behalf of Swiss bank UBS, analyzed 19 years of data covering more than 1,300 billionaires in economies that account for 75% of the world’s billionaire wealth, including the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey, China, India, Japan, and Singapore.

The findings show that Asian women aren’t the only ones making names for themselves—in 2014, 66% of the world’s billionaires were self-made, compared with 43% in 1995. The bulk of these new billionaires—47%—are based in the US, while Asia accounted for 36% of self-made billionaire wealth and Europe made up 17%.

“While US entrepreneurs have driven a global revolution in finance and technology, Asia’s tycoons have been key participants in the region’s accelerated industrial and consumer revolutions, with the building of mega-cities and increase in real estate prices,” the report notes.

Overall, the number of female billionaires around the world has nearly septupled over the last 20 years, rising from just 22 women in 1995 to 145 a year ago. They’re still far outnumbered by men, though. The volume of male billionaires increased fivefold to 1,202 over the last two decades.

As the number of billionaires has grown, so too have their assets. The world’s billionaire wealth jumped from a combined $700 billion in 1995 to $5.4 trillion in 2014, the report showed.

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