Nov. 8 (UPI) -- The global population of billionaires is now 2,101, up 38.9 percent from five years ago, the Swiss investment bank UBS announced Friday.
The combined wealth of the world's billionaires reached $8.5 trillion in 2018, a 38 percent increase from 2013, according to the report "The Billionaire Effect" by UBS and professional services firm PricewaterhouseCooper.
Billionaire wealth declined $388 billion in 2018, after five years of growth, because of "a strong U.S. dollar, trade friction, fears of lower economic growth, and financial market volatility," the report said.
Technology billionaires saw their wealth grow the largest in 2018, to about $1.3 trillion, a 3.4 percent increase. The number of tech billionaires grew from 76 in 2013 to 148 in 2018.
"If tech billionaires' wealth were a country, it would rank second only to the U.S.," the report said. "Looking back over five years, tech billionaires have driven almost a third of the growth in billionaire wealth. U.S. tech billionaires accounted for more than half of that growth."
Self-made billionaires are employing new techniques for global philanthropy, uniting with other billionaires, non-governmental organizations and charities, the report said. Their risk-taking approach and a greater willingness to plan and invest for the long term are demonstrating philanthropic sustainability.
"First the EU [European Union] action plan for Sustainable Finance, then the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals have shown the world how individuals and institutions are expected to foster sustainability," Marcel Tschanz of UBS said in the report. "The broad public, however, is just catching up with our self-made entrepreneurs, who in the past years have transformed, innovated, and become more strategic in their ways of doing good."
The report comes as billionaires have become a policy issue in the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign, notably because of a pledge by candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to tax the ultra-wealthy. Billionaires in the technology sector, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have been criticized in congressional hearings for issues including inadequate data protection, false political advertising on various platforms and Facebooks sale of users' personal data to third parties.