The Truth About Wealth
Affluence Is Becoming a Temporary Phenomenon. Here's How to Dodge the 'Beta Trap' and Hold On to What You've Got
By ROBERT FRANK
Who says the rich always get richer?
Despite heated rhetoric emanating from politicians and pundits, the top 1% is hardly a fixed group that enjoys consistent income gains. To the contrary, the wealthiest have become the most crash-prone group in our economy.
The total income of the top 1%—or those earning more than $343,000 in 2009—fell by more than 30% from 2007, according to the most recent Internal Revenue Service data. By contrast, the average income of the bottom 90% fell less than 3% during the same period.
A November Federal Reserve study, meanwhile, found that a third of the people in the top 1% in 2007, as measured by wealth, were no longer in the top 1% in 2009.