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Wealth Creation: Entrepreneurship vs. Inheritance

Mark Marich

Where do millionaires get their fortunes? Passed down from generation-to-generation through family inheritance? Wrong. A new report from Barclay’s examines recent shifts in the creation of wealth and finding that in established economies long-established models of inheritance have given way to entrepreneurial activity as the preeminent source.

Origins and Legacy: The Changing Order of Wealth Creation surveyed 2,000 high net worth individuals in 17 countries and found that wealth is much more international, diverse and driven by entrepreneurship than it was even as recently as 25 years ago. In the UK, the percentage of self-made millionaires has nearly quadrupled since 1989. The shift is even more pronounced in emerging markets thanks to advances in technology, deregulation and globalization.

Globally, 40 percent of respondents credited entrepreneurship as the primary source of their wealth compared to 26 percent who credited inheritance.

Other findings:

  • The more an individual is worth, the higher the likelihood that entrepreneurship was the primary source of wealth.
  • Tech entrepreneurs climb the wealth ladder more quickly than those in other sectors.
  • Entrepreneurs surveyed have a higher tolerance for risk than those who inherit wealth.
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