"2014 was a superb year for income investors, with developed markets leading the charge," said Alex Crooke at Henderson Global Investors.
The total dividend income paid to shareholders around the world rose by 11% last year to $1.167 trillion, according to the investment firm. The biggest increase in cash payouts came from US firms at $52bn.
Global dividend income has now risen by 60% in the five years since 2009, far outstripping inflation and savers' interest rates in the UK, and also the growth of economies around the world. Just 10 firms accounted for 11% of all global payouts in 2014, and the top 20 accounted for 18% of all dividends. They were led by Vodafone whose huge special dividend early last year meant it was responsible for 20% of all UK dividend payments. Other giant payers in the past year have been oil firms such as Shell, banks such as China Construction Bank and HSBC (the crooks favoured bank), and technology companies such as Apple and Microsoft.
About one-third of global dividend income came from firms on the US stock market. In 2014, dividend changes varied considerably from region to region:
North America - up 15% to $392bn
Europe excluding UK - up 12% to $229bn
UK - up 31% to $135bn
Asia Pacific - up 3% to $116bn
Japan - up 6% to $49bn
Companies outside the top 1,200 - up 11% to $132bn
Total - up 11% to $1.167tn.