Investors around the world have a fever, and the only prescription is more dividends.

Since the credit crisis led to the so-called Great Recession, investors have clamored for reliable, income-generating stocks. Some Fools have pointed to the fervor as signs of an emerging dividend bubble; others have refuted those claims because ... well ... "that's unpossible!"

If it's not unpossible, it's definitely unlikely according to a new report by the Henderson Global Investors. The report shows that companies paid out a record-setting $1 trillion in global dividends last year. That's trillion with a "t" in case you went cross-eyed.

And Henderson's research shows that massive payouts should continue (emphasis mine):

We are living longer. For many, the savings burden is shifting from state
to individual. Interest rates remain low, as do bond yields. Never has the need for income been greater. Indeed, it will remain one of the major investment themes for generations. In recent years, equities have become a much more important hunting ground for yield.
 This is not going to change.

To provide you with some perspective on the growth, geography, and industry breakout of global dividends, I put together an infographic highlighting key takeaways from Henderson's first annual report, including the biggest international dividend-paying companies. Take a look at the following infographic.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.