America Is a Great Place to Get Really, Really Rich
America (...) is lousy at moving many people out of poverty but great at making a very few very rich. The 2014 global wealth report (PDF) from Credit Suisse claimed that the U.S. created more new millionaires than any other country last year. Bill Gates recently noted that about half of the country’s wealthiest are, like him, entrepreneurs—not heirs. Columbia economist Wojciech Kopczuk and Berkeley’s Emmanuel Saez studied estate tax returns from 1916 to 2000 and argued that the recent rise in income inequality stems from the massive salaries of high-income earners, rather than heirs living off their inheritances. That’s consistent with a study by Lena Edlund and Kopczuk, based on Forbes‘s list of the 400 richest Americans, that claimed the super-wealthy are increasingly people who earned, rather than inherited, their wealth. Saez and Wopczuk speculated that the U.S. progressive tax structure and estate taxes have reduced the number of heirs in America’s super-rich club.