The dividends paid to shareholders around the world reached $1.03 trillion last year, according to research by Henderson Global Investors.
The City investment management firm said worldwide dividend payments grew very slowly in 2013, at just 2.8%.
But there has been a 43% rise in the value of global dividends since 2009.
Shareholder payouts have risen fastest in the past four years in the emerging markets, including China, though they have slowed down recently.
A third of all dividends were paid by firms listed on US stock markets, with European-listed companies in second place.
Andrew Formica, chief executive of Henderson, said the trillion-dollar dividend was a “huge milestone” for investors in shares, and highlighted just how important dividends were to investors’ overall returns.
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