The world is on the brink of an unprecedented wave of philanthropy from billionaires, according to a report released Wednesday by UBS and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The global economy is in a second gilded age similar to the one at the turn of the last century that created the Rockefeller and Carnegie fortunes, according to the report “Billionaires: Master Architects of Great Wealth and Lasting Legacies.” A similar wave of philanthropy will follow this wave as it did the first, the report says.

“We expect an unprecedented wave of philanthropy in its many forms – foundations, endowments, socially-focused investing, the arts and education. This can already be seen in the United States with the most visible example being Bill Gates’ Giving Pledge, where more than 100 billionaires have pledged more than 50 percent of their wealth to philanthropic causes,” UBS/PwC says. UBS and PwC expect that the Giving Pledge and individual contributions will increase philanthropy over the next two decades.

“Today’s billionaires have a growing interest in philanthropy, supporting education, health and humanitarian causes around the world. In particular, they tend to be focused on efforts that provide tangible, measurable results: knowing how many lives have been impacted by their donations, seeing improved health or living conditions, or financing of various causes through micro-lending,” the report continues.

The report, which explored some of the attitudes and attributes of 1,300 billionaires worldwide, was based on data from 1995 to 2014.

Many billionaires exhibit similar character traits, such as an appetite for clever risk-taking, an obsessive focus on business and a strong work ethic. But they built their fortunes from different sources, according to the report. In the United States, the largest number of billionaires came from the financial services industry, while the largest number of European and Asian billionaires came from consumer products industries.

The self-made billionaire population in Asia is unusual because wealth creation in the region is more recent than in other parts of the world, according to the report. Asian billionaires are generally younger than billionaires elsewhere, having an average age of 57, which is 10 years younger than U.S. and European billionaires, UBS/PwC says.

In addition, a significant proportion grew up in poverty (25 percent), compared to 8 percent in the U.S. and 6 percent in Europe. As a result of these factors, UBS and PwC anticipate Asia to be the center of new billionaire wealth creation.



 

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