The old Lancashire saying that family fortunes typically follow a “clogs to clogs in three generations” pattern seems to be emerging from a study of the ranks of Britain’s 1,000 wealthiest individuals and families, The Sunday Times reports today, ahead of the publication next Sunday of its annual ‘Rich List’.
According to The Times, the first-ever “significant economic study” of its data on the wealth of Britain’s richest individuals reveals that “entry and exit from the ranks of Britain’s 1,000 wealthiest individuals and families is a ‘revolving door'”, with “two-thirds of those featuring in this year’s list having entered its ranks since the turn of the millennium”.
The study of The Sunday Times Rich List data was conducted by Douglas McWilliams, executive chairman of the Centre for Economics and Business Research, who will feature it in his forthcoming book, The Inequality Paradox, the paper said.
It quotes him as saying: “The Sunday Times Rich List data challenges the idea that wealth sits in the same families’ pockets for generation after generation. The very rich are a changing cast of people.”
That two-thirds of this year’s Rich List individuals entered its ranks since 2000 marks a change, The Times notes, from when it first started compiling the Rich List – which ranks the 1,000 richest people in Britain – in 1989, when it was dominated by individuals who had inherited their fortunes, or the wealth to build on an existing fortune, from previous generations.
It also “challenges claims by Thomas Piketty, the bestselling economist who advised Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, that wealth typically remains in the same families for generations”, The Times points out.
That wealthy families tend not to hold onto their wealth may come as a surprise to some, but as the Lancashire proverb mentioned above, previous generations have been aware of it.
And not just in Lancashire, The Times points out: “Scotland has the phrase ‘the father buys, the son builds, the grandchild sells, and his son begs’, while the Japanese version is ‘rice paddies to rice paddies in three generations'”.
To read The Sunday Times’s story today, which includes a link to a story containing highlights from next Sunday’s publication of the 29th annual Rich List, and which has a paywall, click here.
(Among those highlights is the fact that there are currently a record number of billionaires in Britain; more than one in thirteen of the country’s wealthiest 1,000 individuals are now worth at least £1bn; and that this year, a fortune of £110m is required to enter the Rich List, up from £103m in 2016, and double the threshold of 2009.)