“The report finds that 40 percent of the Forbes 400 list inherited a sizable asset from a family member or spouse, and over 20 percent inherited sufficient wealth to make the list. In addition, 17 percent of the Forbes 400 have family members on the list.
‘Forbes spins a misleading tale of what it takes to become wealthy in the U.S. by understating the overwhelming impact of birthright and privilege,’ said Shannon Moriarty, co-author of the report. ‘Economic success should be a function of achievement, not just a guarantee for people lucky enough to be born into wealthy families. The Forbes 400 shows that birthright and family privilege are still very much at play in the American Dream.’
The report explains that the net worth of the Forbes 400 grew fifteen-fold between the launch of the list in 1982 and 2011, while wealth stagnated for the average U.S. household. In 1982, the wealth threshold for the Forbes 400 was $75 million; today, every person on the list is a billionaire.
Women accounted for just 10 percent of the list in 2011, and nearly 90 percent of those women inherited their fortunes…” [more]
Also read: Romney and the Forbes 400
“In the last year alone, the cumulative net worth of the wealthiest 400 people, by Forbes’s calculation, rose by $200 billion. That compares with a 4 percent drop in median household income last year, according to the Census Bureau. One would be hard pressed to find a clearer example of how powerfully income inequality has taken root…”