Will growing wealth in emerging economies lead to meaningful philanthropy?

It was hard to miss the story about Carlos Slim Helú being ranked the richest person in the world by Forbes this year. Either Bill Gates or Warren Buffett had held this ‘title’ for the past nine years (and at least one New York Times piece argued that if Gates and Buffett were less philanthropic, they would still be topping the list). Though Slim had been climbing the Forbes list recently, this change is another indicator of the decentralization of wealth towards non-Western countries including Brazil, India and China.

But when Forbes released its list of the world’s 14 most generous philanthropists in August 2009, Slim was not on it, while Gates remained at the top and Buffett was in the top 10. Nevertheless, some have speculated about what Slim’s new position as the world’s richest person might signal not only for his philanthropy but also for the giving practices of other emerging ultra-high-net-worth individuals from around the world.

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