Maybe the Young Aren't Taking Over the 1 Percent
The 20-something founders of Instagram and Facebook are high-profile but don't make for a trend
It seems that more and more youngsters with internet startups are instant bajillionaires. Twenty-seven-year-old
But that's a tough case to make.
Data show that "there has been [an age] shift downward in that more millionaires are in their fifties or under 50 and fewer are 60 or older. But there are very few millionaires under age 40, and that hasn't really increased over time," says
Winship points to data from the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances, which show that the share of young people with annual incomes of
Million Dollar Earners by Age
|Source: Scott Winship|
Those data, of course, are just for incomes and not net worth. But a glance at
And while high-priced startups like Instagram have the business world buzzing about a "social media bubble," Winship doesn't see the young people at the helm of many of these companies making up an unusually large portion of the wealthiest Americans.
"I think what's happened is that there are a small number of high-profile folks like Zuckerberg and the
"I think the perception out there is that it's easier" to quickly make large sums of money, says
However, it's also unfair to say that wealth trends aren't shifting; they are, but it has less to do with age and more to do with how people make their billions...not to mention how many billions they are able to make.
The rise of the internet has made a new arena in which it is possible to make lots of money with far fewer startup costs than the industrial giants of yesteryear. Rockefeller may have needed oil refineries, but now some coding, a laptop, and an idea can make for a wildly lucrative product.
This means that getting to the top can be a fast ride. As
That has helped a handful of high-profile young business people climb the wealth ladder quickly. Then there's the question of how they climbed so high. Winship says that this is a trend across all of the richest Americans.
Now, he says, "the richest people in America in any given year are much richer than the richest Americans were in the 1980s and early 1990s." Because of globalization, companies -- particularly websites -- can reach huge customer bases, meaning potentially bigger profits. In short, are more young entrepreneurs hit it big, they may find their older counterparts already easily outpacing them.
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