Of the fortunes that have been on the Forbes Billionaires lists for at least a quarter of a century, 78% belong to Europe while only 73% come from the US.
A joint study between Societe Generale and Forbes Insights also reveals that over the last 25 years Europe has had the second-highest increase in its share of the world’s biggest fortunes, behind the Americas.
It is also the area with the second-highest increase in the aggregate growth of fortunes held by the wealthiest individuals.
Europe’s growth in fortune creation over the last 15 years can partly be attributed to emerging markets, with emerging Europe accounting for 42% of Europe’s largest fortunes and 39% of the wealth held by its richest individuals, according to the study.
But the study also revealed that Europe has recently been generating new fortunes at a slower pace. In the last two years it generated just 26% of the world’s new fortunes, placing it behind the Americas and the Asia-Pacific region.
Most of this new wealth has been generated in Western Europe rather than emerging Europe, with the research showing that many Western European fortunes come as the result of the second generation reaching billionaire status through companies set up long periods of time ago.
A statement from Societe Generale said: “Some new fortunes still harken back to the post-communist asset privatizations.”
The research, titled “Behind the Staying Power of Wealth Creation in Europe: Family, Long-Lived & Long-Term-Oriented”, focuses on the evolution of wealth creation in Europe and the longevity of European fortunes over the last quarter-century.