The Changing Rich

Larry Summers writes:

When Forbes compared its list of the wealthiest Americans in 1982 and 2012, it found that less than one tenth of the 1982 list was still on the list in 2012, despite the fact that a significant majority of members of the 1982 list would have qualified for the 2012 list if they had accumulated wealth at a real rate of even 4 percent a year. They did not, given pressures to spend, donate, or misinvest their wealth. In a similar vein, the data also indicate, contra Piketty, that the share of the Forbes 400 who inherited their wealth is in sharp decline.

2 Responses to “The Changing Rich”


  • I read the Forbes article he mentioned. It talked about the top guy in 1982. Daniel Kieth Ludwig. Also Sam Walton. Also Bob Hope. Apparently they estimated he was worth $280 million. Hope said that was false, more like $50. They revised it down to $115. So I’m not sure he would have still qualified for the list back then. But the other two would still make the list except for one thing, which is also true for Hope. They’re all dead.

  • Slight correction, I didn’t read closely. There was a 4th person mentioned from the 1982 list that didn’t make the list in 2012. Steve Jobs. Quite a testament to how much the list of rich people in the US changes so readily, now instead of Sam Walton and Steve Jobs it’s 5 Walton children and Job’s widow.

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