About one-third of Americans believe that they will most likely become a millionaire in their lifetime. But how likely is it really? What are the odds of becoming a millionaire, a billionaire, or just monetarily successful? We’ve taken a deeper look into the true likelihood of wealth and, importantly, who is more likely to succeed financially.
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What are the chances of becoming a millionaire?
Roughly three out of 100 people in the U.S. are millionaires, but your chances of becoming a millionaire depend very much on your age, your race, and your education.
The concept of Crazy Rich Asians isn’t too far off from reality: Asian-Americans are more than three times more likely to become millionaires than African-Americans.
White and Asian people have much higher odds of becoming millionaires (about one in five). This severe race-based wealth gap, which is so often denied in our culture, continues regardless of age and education.
If you can afford a post-graduate degree, you have a one in three chance of becoming a millionaire; choosing to stop with a high school diploma reduces your chances by 28.6%.
This shouldn’t be too surprising, as increasing your education increases your salary as a general rule. While many jeans-wearing billionaires like Sir Richard Branson might tell you that you don’t need to go to college to get rich, you probably should.
Yes, education does raise your chances regardless of race, but it hardly evens the playing field.
According to data from the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances, white people see the highest jump in odds according to education. Hispanic and black people only increase their odds marginally with a post-graduate degree.
A black person with a graduate degree has a 6.7% likelihood of becoming a millionaire — less than the percent likelihood of a white person with an associate degree.
Ask yourself, “What is my chance of becoming a millionaire?” and see how much harder or easier you have it than other Americans.
What are the odds of becoming a billionaire?
There are only slightly more than 500 billionaires in America, making your odds of becoming one roughly one in 578,508. Worldwide, there are 2,043 billionaires among 7.4 billion people. Still, the racial wealth gap continues: Only 11 of them are black. Interestingly, the education gap is a bit different, with 63 of the Forbes 400 having only a high school degree.
While you might have better chances as an American than someone from another country, if you’re wondering, “Will I be a billionaire?” the answer may have to do with lady luck more than anything else.
Why do we love the romantic idea of working hard?
Despite the evidence, and how disparate the wealth gap is in America in terms of household income to the rate of inheritance among the country’s most wealthy citizens, most people still believe in hard work. We may be still asking ourselves, “Will I become a millionaire?” or even, among the more delusional of us, “When will I be a millionaire?” While it’s true that those who manage to live past 62 have a higher chance than younger people, the odds of becoming a millionaire remain fairly low for most Americans.
One thing that’s interesting to see is that your belief in hard work being related to wealth depends on how wealthy you already are.
About six in 10 surveyed Americans believe they can make it if they’re willing to work hard, while more than nine in 10 surveyed millionaires believe they became wealthy due to hard work.
Is it true that hard work leads to wealth? Or is it a cognitive bias?
It’s clear that attitudes are starting to change; more people believe that poor people work hard, that wealth has to do with luck, and that it can be difficult to climb the economic ladder.