A survey of U.S. investors with $25 million or more finds their average age dropped by 11 years since 2014, to 47. These fabulously rich Americans, whose ranks have more than doubled since the depths of the Great Recession, are younger than less wealthy millionaires. The average age of those with at least a mere $1 million is 62, a number that hasn’t budged in years.
The finding suggests a “vast generational transfer of wealth” is “just beginning,” said George Walper Jr, president of the Spectrem Group, which conducted the study. The sample size was small—185 Americans with more than $25 million in net worth—but the findings are consistent with other economic research on the top 0.1 percent.
Those over 65 hold more than a third of U.S. wealth, a number that hasn’t risen as quickly as the share of elderly Americans in the population, University of California Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman found in a 2016 paper. In fact the very wealthiest group of Americans “is actually getting younger.”
Where is this new money coming from? A new generation of millionaires and billionaires probably owe as much to inheritances as to self-made fortunes. “There may be more Mark Zuckerbergs at the top of the wealth distribution than in the 1960s, but also more Paris Hiltons,” Saez and Zucman wrote.
About 172,000 U.S. households have net worths of at least $25 million, Spectrem estimated last year. That’s up from 84,000 in 2008.