How Do You Define Rich? Research Says It Depends Who You Ask

How Do You Define Rich? Research Says It Depends Who You Ask

If being rich is something you aspire to, then we’ve got some disappointing news: You may never get there.

Just hear us out.

We're not suggesting you'll be unsuccessful in your career or that you'll lose all your money in the stock market. Rather, it’s that your perception of wealth will keep evolving, so you’ll always believe “rich” people earn significantly more than you do.

Learnvest

Get started with a free financial assessment.

That’s the conclusion Richard Reeves, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, came to when he looked at a Roper analysis of 2011 Gallup research.

According to the analysis, the definition of “rich” varies widely based on how much you earn.

For example, most people who make less than $30,000 believe you can be rich even if you earn less than $100,000. Yet the majority of those with an income between $30,000 and $99,000 say making it to the lower six figures may not be enough. Then nearly half of people who earn upwards of $100,000 say you’ve got to make at least $500,000 in order to qualify as rich.

Notice a pattern?

These findings add to a growing body of research suggesting that wealth is relative, and that we’re always inclined to compare ourselves to people who have more than we do.

In fact, according to a 2014 Pew survey, just 1% of people describe themselves as “upper class"—even though 20% of households rake in at least $100,000.

For Reeves, these stats are emblematic of a political problem in the U.S. Most people believe the wealthy should be paying the most in taxes—but no one actually sees himself that way.

Given that previous research suggests few of us think we’ll ever be rich, perhaps the healthiest solution is to simply adjust your perception to better appreciate how much you already have.

Hey, by someone else’s standards, you could already be loaded.

Learnvest

Financial planning made simple.

Get your free financial assessment.

Related Tags

Get the latest in your inbox.

Subscription failed!

You're Now Subscribed!