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Five Myths about Economic Inequality in America

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Michael Tanner debunks five about inequality, including the notion that the really wealthy didn’t really earn their wealth: “Surveys vary, but it can be said with a fair degree of accuracy that the overwhelming majority of the rich did not inherit their wealth. For example, a study of billionaires around the world finds that fewer than 3 in 10 American billionaires got to that position by inheriting their wealth, and that ‘the share of self-made billionaires has been expanding most rapidly in the United States.’ And while that represents the richest of the rich, the slightly less wealthy may be even less likely to have inherited their wealth. A report from BMO Financial Group found that two-thirds of high-net-worth Americans could be considered self-made, compared to a mere 3 percent who inherited the majority of their wealth. Interestingly, this study also found that nearly a third of these people are either first-generation Americans or were themselves born elsewhere. Among these wealthy ‘new Americans,’ 80 percent reported that they earned, rather than inherited, their wealth.”

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