London: Billionaires made more money in 2017 than in any year in recorded history and the richest people on Earth increased their wealth by a fifth to $8.9 trillion, according to a report by Swiss bank UBS.
"The past 30 years have seen far greater wealth creation than the Gilded Age" the UBS Billionaires 2018 report said on Friday.
"That period bred generations of families in the US and Europe who went on to influence business, banking, politics, philanthropy and the arts for more than 100 years. With wealth set to pass from entrepreneurs to their heirs in the coming years, the 21st century multi-generational families are being created."
According to the report, the world's 2,158 billionaires grew their combined wealth by $1.4 trillion last year, more than the GDP of Spain or Australia, as booming stock markets helped the already very wealthy to achieve the "greatest absolute growth ever", the Guardian reported.
More than 40 of the 179 new billionaires created last year inherited their wealth, and given the number of billionaires over 70 the report's authors expect a further $3.4 trillion to be handed down over the next 20 years.
"A major wealth transition has begun," the report said.
"Over the past five years, the sum passed by deceased billionaires to beneficiaries has grown by an average of 17 per cent each year, to reach $117 bn in 2017. In that year alone, 44 heirs inherited more than a billion dollars each.
"There are 701 billionaires over the age of 70, whose wealth will transition to heirs and philanthropy over the next 20 years, given the statistical probability of average life expectancy."
The 30 richest septuagenarians or older have a combined net worth of more than $1 trillion.
The world's richest person is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who has an estimated net worth of $146 bn, more than any one person in history.