Most Americans want to amass a fortune and pass it down to their children. Only a small subset of the wealthy actually make this dream a reality. Well under a third of Americans today expect to receive an inheritance, and just 5 percent of retirees count inheritance money as a major source of income. But among those who do anticipate an inheritance, nearly 3 in 10 expect to receive over $250,000 in assets, with heirs in the top 7 percent of estates getting about 50 percent of total bequests. This is a category that includes the 22 new billionaires who joined the Forbes 400 list in 2016—more than two-thirds of whom inherited their wealth—as well as five of the 14 youngest billionaires, who also inherited their fortunes.
Inequalities in family wealth are hardly new to the American experience. But to an unprecedented degree, the issue of family inheritance portends political conflict.
High net worth families—those positioned to pass down millions of dollars in assets to their children—are different not only in their means, but also in their outlooks. More so than in previous eras, families who are poised to build and maintain intergenerational wealth are defined by a single characteristic: a penchant for mobility. They are distinct in their willingness to move their livelihoods and their assets in search of opportunity.
The importance of mobility in intergenerational wealth can be seen in three ways: the rise of immigrant wealth, cosmopolitan attitudes of the rich, and the growing importance of transnational succession planning.
Against this backdrop, populists and nationalists may seize the political moment on a wave of class resentment. But in enacting their agenda, they face formidable odds against a financial elite that has the means and the will to leave the country if it undermines their interest.
Family dynasties invoke images of European aristocrats and Persian Gulf monarchs. To a remarkable degree, however, family wealth accumulation is an American phenomenon. The United States has been the world’s largest economy since the 1870s and experienced seven-fold growth in real per capita income through the 20th century. The world’s wealthiest families are largely those who had the foresight to immigrate to the United States and give their children an opportunity to prosper in the country’s wealth boom. Today, more than a third of the world’s wealth is in the United States. The country has produced:
41 percent of the world’s millionaires, including the most new millionaires;
Fifty percent of the world’s ultra-high net worth individuals (more than $50 million in assets);
30 percent of the world’s billionaires; and
43 percent of the world’s tech billionaires.
The phenomenon of immigrant wealth is underscored by the disproportionate gains immigrants themselves have made within the broader “nation of immigrants.” America’s rich is no longer dominated by the progenies of historically ascendant groups. The “Boston elite” of the 19th century and the New York and Philadelphia Episcopalian establishments …read more
Via:: American Conservative
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