That is my latest Bloomberg column, here is the introductory section:
The richest Americans are much less likely to have inherited their wealth than their counterparts in many supposedly more egalitarian countries. They’re not remarkably rich in degrees from elite universities. Rich Democrats have more social connections than rich Republicans.
These are some surprising insights from a new study of the very wealthy by Jonathan Wai of Duke University and David Lincoln of Wealth-X, based on data on 18,245 individuals with a net worth of $30 million or more.
The study portrays high-net-worth individuals as a more idiosyncratic and diverse group than reductionist cliches about “the 1 percent” might suggest.
Looking globally, extreme wealth is most closely connected to elite education in South Korea, Chile, and South Africa, and least so in Ukraine and Qatar. The U.S. is near the bottom of the top third of the country rankings for the tightness of this connection. Germany is close to the bottom, reflecting how German paths to riches run through forms of manufacturing and medium-sized business that are not so closely tied to elite higher education.
For all the talk of Sweden and Austria as relatively egalitarian societies, they are also the countries where the greatest proportion of high-net-worth individuals inherited their wealth: 43.8 percent and 49.6 percent, respectively. In the U.S., inherited wealth accounts for only 12.6 percent of the very wealthy individuals in the study’s sample.
There is much more at the link.