What does it mean to be rich in America? Are the wealthy best defined by net worth, income or lifestyle? How do the lives of the rich differ from those of other Americans? Notions of wealth are shaped by age, income, occupation and other demographic characteristics, according to a January survey of 1,260 investors by Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner. Here’s what we found:
· Age: The vast majority of investors (84 percent) associate wealth with greater security, but older investors are more likely to view security has a hallmark of being rich. (More than 87 percent of investors ages 61 and over associate wealth with security, compared to 72 percent of investors 40 and under.)Younger investors are more apt to associate “more happiness,” “more fun” and “less work” with being wealthy, while older investors are more likely to feel the wealthy have more responsibility and a more complicated life.
· Income: Lower-income investors – those who earn less than $100,000 a year – are more likely to associate “more happiness” with the wealthy. Investors who have an annual income of $200,000 or more have a greater tendency to see the rich as having both greater security and responsibility.
· Net Worth: The high net worth – those with investable assets of $5 million up to $25 million – are the most likely to associate wealth with greater security (89 percent), compared to 82 percent for those with less than $100,000 to invest. The high net worth are also more apt to see the wealthy as having more responsibility, as well as more fun.
· Retirement status: Working Americans are more likely to see the wealthy as having more stress and a more complicated life, while retirees associate being rich with greater security and more responsibility.
· Occupation: Corporate executives are the most likely to perceive the wealthy as having more responsibility and stress.
Americans tend to define “rich” primarily by wealth level, as opposed to lifestyle or income, according to our research, though less affluent investors, those with less than $100,000 in investable assets, are more apt than higher net worth individuals to define the wealthy by income and lifestyle.