Asia’s 637 billionaires outnumbered those in the United States for the first time last year, according to a new report, with China adding the most new billionaires at 101, bringing its total to 318, while Asia overall added 162.
Asian billionaires compared to 563 of the super-rich in the U.S., though the total wealth of American billionaires is still higher at $2.8 trillion compared to $2.0 trillion in Asia, said a report published on Thursday by UBS and PwC that tracks 1,542 billionaires globally.
The report that highlighted China’s nearly 50 percent increase in billionaires last year comes days after Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the need for more equal development as the country tries to shrink its large wealth gap.
The total wealth of billionaires rose by 17 percent in 2016 to $6.0 trillion after falling in 2015, said the report.
But at current trends, the total wealth of Asia’s billionaires will surpass that of those in the U.S. in four years, the report said.
While China accounted for 20 percent of total billionaires, 43 percent of those that fell off the list last year were from China, said James Chang, financial services consulting leader at PwC China.
The large number of Chinese billionaires that dropped off the list last year partly reflects their outsized exposure to stock market volatility as well as the impact from changes to policy and access to funding channels, said Chang, according to a transcript from a news conference to mark the report release.