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What is the Ratio of Rich Women in the World? Countries With the Most Female Billionaires

ZUU Online SG logo ZUU Online SG 13/6/2019 ZUU
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A look at the world of affluent women

While the global focus in recent years has been on the gender gap, there is also a gender gap among the wealthy. The extremely low ratio of female billionaires has not changed in the past few years.

This section introduces the ratio of women of billionaires in the international comparison, based on the report on the wealthy class “Wealth-X Billionaire Census 2019” published by Wealth-X, an international asset information company.

The number of wealthy women is expected to increase in the future as more and more women are taking an interest in business and assets in operation.

The percentage of women billionaires in the world

A billionaire refers to a person with assets of at least $1 billion USD. According to the “Wealth-X Billionaire Census 2019” the world’s population of billionaires is 2,604 people, of which 88.3% are men and 11.7% women.

Compared to three years ago, the proportion of women has remained stagnant. According to “Wealth-X Billionaire Census 2016”, 88.1% of all billionaires were male and 11.9% were female.

It is widely believed that such disparities are caused by a “delay in women’s participation in society”.

In fact, while 61.1% of male billionaires are self-made, only 16% of women billionaires are self-made. While 53.7% of female billionaires have inherited wealth, only 7.9% of male billionaires inherit wealth from their families.

The ratio of billionaires who inherited money or inherited property or business and made their own fortune is about 30% for both men and women.

However, considering the fact that the number of female billionaires has increased by 9% since 2012, the number of female billionaires is on the rise, albeit slowly. The number of female billionaires has more than doubled from 109 in 2019 to 244 in 2010 according to data from Forbes magazine.

9 of the top 10 female billionaires are “inheritance and self-made type”

Of the 2,153 billionaires in the world, 244 are women, or 11.3%, according to a survey published by Forbes magazine based on data from February 2019. There are overwhelmingly many more that inherit their wealth than self-made types.

The richest woman in the world, with $49.3 billion in assets is Francoise Betancourt Meyer, granddaughter of the founder of L’Oreal, the world’s largest cosmetics company. In second, Alice Walton, the parent of the world’s largest supermarket chain Wal-Mart, followed by Jacqueline Mars, heiress to shares in major confectionery maker Mars.

Yang Huiyuan, daughter of China’s largest real estate developer, BMW’s largest shareholder Susanne Klatten, wife of the late Steve Jobs Lauren Powell, and CEO of Fidelity Investments’ Avigail Johnson are amongst the most wealthy women.

Germany is a country with many female billionaires

What’s interesting is that the percentage of female billionaires varies from country to country. Among the 3 countries with the largest population of billionaires alone, the United States, ranked No. 1 at 12% and China, No. 2 at  8%, while Germany ranked 3rd at 19.6%, almost 1 in 5 billionaires are women.

Germany, in particular, is not a country with a favorable environment for women to advance into society. Rather, many women work part-time rather than full-time for housework and child-rearing, which is a common practice in many other countries.

However, according to figures released by the German Federal Labour Office (BA), the percentage of working women has increased by 15% since German unification in 1990, and the percentage of working women is about 71%, around 10% higher than the OECD average.

In 2019, a new bill was passed that gives employees the right to work part-time for a certain period of time and then return to full-time employment. Thus, an environment in which women can play an active role in society was created.

Germany’s wealthiest woman establishes herself as business-woman

Symbolizing this trend, Germany’s richest woman, Susanne Klatten, went beyond being a “daughter of the wealthy” to establish herself in as one of the country’s leading female business-women.

Klatten is the eldest daughter of the late businessman Herbert Cuvant, known as the savior of BMW (which was on the brink of bankruptcy). With a passion, she said, “I want to make my business successful,” and not depend on the wealth of her parents. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Buckingham University in the UK and an MBA from the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland.

After gaining experience as a trainee at a bank and consulting company, she started an internship at BMW using a false name.

Most of her fortune came from dividends of BMW, as her family owns 21% of the company, but she has proven her ability as a businesswoman by growing Altana, a German pharmaceutical company that she had inherited from her father. She is now its owner and vice chairman and the company’s annual sales is $2.5 billion.

Her mother Johanna Quandt, who passed away in 2015, was a regular Forbes ranking billionaire and a former special adviser to BMW.

Is there a country with only female billionaires?

Focusing solely on the proportion of men and women, women account for 100% of billionaires in just one country: Angola in central Africa. There is only one billionaire - of which is a woman (Source: World Atlas).

The richest woman in Angola and Africa is Isabel dos Santos, the eldest daughter of former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos.

She represented the state-owned oil company Sonangol when former Angola President Santos took office and owns a number of shares including Portuguese telecommunications company Zon Multimedia. A Santos spokesman insists she is “an independent businessperson and individual investor”, but it is likely the wealth she built is with her father’s inheritance.

Regardless of the background, Angola has the highest percentage of female billionaires.

After Angola, countries with a high percentage of female billionaires are Chile, Peru and Monaco. At 33% each, 1 in 3 billionaires is female, but like Angola, the number of billionaires is only around 3 to 12 women.

The country with the highest percentage of female billionaires in Asia is Korea, where 6 out of 30 are women.

3 Keywords: “Empowerment”, “equality”, and “education”

As the data shows, “a society in which economic success is evenly distributed between men and women” is still a long way off. Although equal access to education and employment is improving, males still largely dominate the workforce, investments and business opportunities.

In order to improve the social and economic status of women, it is necessary to further stress the importance of “empowerment”, “equality”, and  “education” throughout the world.

When women think about their rights, their way of life and their purpose in life, they show a positive attitude in regards to work, entrepreneurship and wealth operation. Even if it takes time, this will be reflected in future figures.

World’s billionaires decline, Asia-Pacific stalls

The world’s billionaires themselves have been declining in recent years.

According to the “Wealth-X Billionaire Census 2019”, after reaching record levels in 2018, the world’s billionaires’ assets fell 7% to about $8.6 trillion in 2017, and the population of billionaires fell 5.4% to 2,604.

This is the second time that the population of billionaires declined since the recession 10 years ago. Wealth-X estimates that the sharp decline in assets has led to market volatility, global trade tensions and slowing economic growth.

The global slowdown in the growth of wealth is a phenomenon found only in North America where the number of billionaires has increased by 3.2% to 750, but total assets have decreased by 5.3% to 3.1 trillion dollars. The number of billionaires in the U.S. increased by 0.9% to 892, but total assets fell 5.8% to about $3.5 trillion.

The Asia-Pacific region, which experienced rapid growth in 2017, recorded the largest decline in the population of billionaires of any region. The number of billionaires fell 13.4% to 707, and their total assets fell 8.7% to about $2.2 trillion.

Future female billionaires appearing in great numbers in Asia

A positive factor is the growing popularity of female entrepreneurs in Asia and emerging regions, which have long been regarded as places in which “women’s participation in society is slow”.

There are many leading businesswomen and potential billionaires in Asia. Just a few examples would be Mobike founder Hu Wei Wei, Nisa Leung of Qiming Venture Partners, and CEO and founder of VIPKID Cindy Mi.

From Japan, Miwako Date, managing director of Mori Trust Hotels & Resorts, chief, and Aki Hashimoto, managing director and chief of Stella Chemifa, have been among the success stories that symbolize new female entrepreneurs.

More big names in other regions would be Estina Ang, founder and chief executive officer of Singaporean apparel maker Ghim Li Group, the CEO of Wilcon Depot Lorraine Belo-Cincochan, Dang Minh Phuong, founder and CEO of Vietnamese transportation company MP Logistics, and Christina Gaw, managing principal at Gaw Capital Partners, a private equity firm in Hong Kong.


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