NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The U.S. has entered a second Gilded Age, according to a recent study by UBS (UBS) and PricewaterhouseCoopers, but don't expect it to last too long. Not only do billionaires today have new philanthropic opportunities, they face an increasing social backlash.
The report analyzed 917 "self-made" billionaires who amassed a combined fortune of $3.6 trillion, primarily by advancing the Internet in various ways, revolutionizing finance and taking advantage of industrial and consumer booms throughout Asia.
"The past 35 years have been a period of extraordinary wealth creation," according to the report. "Only the 'Gilded Age' at the beginning of the 20th century bears any comparison. Then fortunes were created from industrial innovation, in sectors such as steel, cars and electricity. Now they are being made from the consumer industry, technology and financial innovation in the US and Europe."
The report covers 1,300 billionaires in total over a 19-year period, and surveys the 14 markets most familiar to the super-rich, which account for three quarters of all billionaires.
The findings suggest the new Gilded Age may soon come to an end: Many billionaires are aging and looking for ways to parcel out their fortunes, and some are turning to philanthropy.
"Traditional philanthropy has been criticized for being too detached, isolated and reactive," according to the report. "The billionaire of today has better options. Much more emphasis is being placed on social investing and results: lives changed, improved health conditions, financing of causes via micro-lending. Current philanthropy is focusing much more on tracking and delivering measurable and tangible results."