Beijing now has more billionaires than New York City, study says

Beijing has 100 billionaires to New York's 95, according to Hurun, a publishing and research firm based in Shanghai. But there are different ways that wealth is calculated.

Mark Schiefelbein/AP/File
Chinese investors monitor stock prices on an electronic display in a brokerage house in Beijing (Feb. 16, 2016).

The majority of the world’s billionaires no longer live in the Big Apple.

That distinction now belongs to Beijing, according to a report released today by Hurun Report Inc., a publishing and research firm based in Shanghai.

According to Hurun’s annual Global Rich List, 100 billionaires reside in Beijing compared to 95 in New York City.

The number of billionaires in Beijing has increased by 32 since last year, and Hurun reports that the number of billionaires in China has increased by 80 percent since 2013. Their combined net worth amounts to $1.4 trillion, nearly that of Australia’s total GDP. Alibaba founder Jack Ma is worth $21 billion alone.

By regional ranking, China now holds the majority of the world’s wealthiest individuals: 568. Four other Chinese cities follow Beijing on Hurun’s top ten list of wealthiest cities: Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou. However, the United States is still not far behind, with 535 billionaires residing within its borders.

In a press release, Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher at Hurun Report, said, “Despite its own slowdown and falling [stock markets], China minted more new billionaires than any other country in the world last year, mainly on the back of new listings. Growth in billionaires for the rest of the world was held back by a slowdown in the global economy, the strengthening of the US dollar and the drop in oil prices.”

Mr. Hoogewerf founded the annual list in 1999 to research and track growing wealth in the private sector in China. Hurun also does other research and holds events targeted at the very wealthy. The Rich List tracks several factors, including global patterns in wealth migration, country of wealth origin, and other factors that contribute to affluence.

In Hurun’s analysis of where wealth comes from, and where it travels, the company notes that 630 billionaires on the list, or 29 percent, are Chinese in origin. The majority of those individuals now live in Southeast Asia, according to the report.

The number of billionaires from India is also on the rise. After China and the US, it has the most billionaires in the world, ahead of Russia and the United Kingdom. Hurun reports that the majority of India’s billionaires live in Mumbai. The India-based Business Standard reports that the combined wealth of India’s billionaires increased by 25 percent over last year, to $308 billion.

What industries do the world’s billionaires tend to work in? Technology, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and real estate all took the highest spots on Hurun’s list. Reflecting broader economic trends, the retail and food and beverage industries also scored fairly high. The mining and hospitality industries did not see the same gains as these other fields.

The majority of the vast wealth on Hurun’s list came from some type of self-made initiative, which included both those who were self-made without parental contributions and those who did receive this type of support. The number of people who became billionaires through inheritance is declining.

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