Business

Half of Young People Expect to Strike It Rich

But expectations fall rapidly with age

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- A recent Gallup Poll, conducted Jan. 20-22, finds that 31% of Americans expect to get rich at some time in their lives, and another 2% volunteer that they already are rich. The public's definition of rich means an annual income of about $120,000 or financial assets of about $1 million (each figure is the median estimate). These figures, as well as the percentage who expect to get rich, all vary considerably by gender, age, and income.

Unencumbered by much experience and filled with hope for the future, young people are the age group most optimistic about their future wealth. Just over half of Americans under the age of 30 say they are very or somewhat likely to be rich at some point in their lives, compared with just 8% of Americans 65 and older. Add 2% in the oldest age group who volunteer that they are already rich, and that makes 10% who either expect to be or are rich, just one-fifth the number of young people. The intermediate age groups show declining rates -- 37% of the 30-49 age group either are or expect to be rich, down to 26% in the 50-64 group.

 

Percent Who Expect to Be Rich, Compared by Age

Very/somewhat likely to be rich

ALREADY RICH (vol.)

%

%

Overall

31

2

Age

18-29

51

0

30-49

36

1

50-64

22

4

65+

8

2



Wealth expectations are also related to gender, as men are somewhat more optimistic than women about becoming rich. Thirty-five percent of men hold those expectations, compared with 27% of women.

But the gender differences are highly dependent on age. The biggest gender "gap" is found among the youngest people, while the gap narrows in the older age groups and virtually disappears in the oldest category.

 

Percent Who Expect to Be Rich, Compared by Gender and Age

Very/somewhat likely to be rich

ALREADY RICH (vol.)

%

%

Gender

Male

35

3

Female

27

1

Gender by Age

18-29 Male

58

1

18-29 Female

43

0

30-49 Male

40

1

30-49 Female

33

2

50-64 Male

22

8

50-64 Female

21

0

65+ Male

7

3

65+ Female

8

1



Among Americans under 30, 58% of males expect to be rich and another 1% are rich, for a total of 59%, compared with just 43% of females (with none being rich already). That gap of 15 percentage points declines to 6 points in the 30-49 age group, and 9 points in the 50-64 group. The latter includes 8% of males, but zero percent of females, who are already rich. In the oldest age group, 7% of men expect to be rich and 3% are, compared with 8% and 1% respectively among women.

Not surprisingly, the expectations of becoming rich are greatly influenced by one's current financial status. Only about one in five people whose household income is less than $50,000 a year expect to be rich someday, compared with 41% of people with incomes of $50,000 to $75,000 (38% expect to be rich, another 3% say they already are). Fifty-four percent of people whose household income is $75,000 or more either expect to be rich (51%) or are rich now (3%).

 

Percent Who Expect to Be Rich Compared by Household Income

Very/somewhat likely to be rich

ALREADY RICH (vol.)

Income

< $30K

21%

1

$30K-$50K

21%

0

$50K-$75K

38%

3

$75K+

51%

3



Definition of "Rich" Varies

For most people, being "rich" translates into a substantial amount of money, but the exact amount varies by age, gender, and income. Overall, Americans estimate that the median annual income needed to be rich is $122,000, but the estimate increases to $200,000 among middle-age people and those with household incomes of $50,000 or more.

 

What it Means to Be "Rich" in Total Assets and Annual Household Income

Amount of assets to be rich

(median dollars)

Amount of household income to be rich (median dollars)

Overall

$1,000,000

$122,000

Age

18-29

$463,000

$100,000

30-49

$1,000,000

$200,000

50+

$764,000

$100,000

Gender

Male

$1,000,000

$150,000

Female

$500,000

$100,000

Income

< $30K

$500,000

$74,000

$30K-$50K

$500,000

$100,000

$50K+

$1,000,000

$200,000



The median estimate of financial assets that are needed in order to be considered "rich" is about $1 million among all Americans, but lower among people under 30, those 50 and older, and people with current household incomes of less than $50,000 a year.

Survey Methods

The latest results are based on telephone interviews with 1,006 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 20-22, 2003. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Looking ahead, how likely is it that you will ever be rich? Would you say it is – very likely, somewhat likely, not very likely, or not at all likely?

 

Very
likely

Somewhat likely

Not very likely

Not at all likely

ALREADY RICH (vol.)

No
opinion

2003 Jan 20-22

10%

21

36

30

2

1

1996 Apr 25-28

10%

23

37

27

1

2

1990 May 17-20

9%

23

32

35

*

1



Just thinking about your own situation, how much money per year would you need to make in order to consider yourself rich? [OPEN-ENDED]

BASED ON –-502—NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A

 

2003 Jan 20-22

1996 Apr 25-28 ^

%

%

Less than $40,000

5

8

$40,000-$59,999

10

10

$60,000-$99,999

10

11

$100,000

20

21

$100,001-$299,999

21

19

$300,000-$499,999

5

5

$500,000-$999,999

6

8

$1,000,000

8

4

$1,000,001-$4,999,999

3

2

$5,000,000 or more

2

2

No opinion

10

10

Median

$122,000

$100,000

^

Based on respondents who do not consider themselves to be rich.



Just thinking about your own situation, how much money would you need to have saved up in cash, stocks, real estate and other investments in order to consider yourself rich?[OPEN-ENDED]

BASED ON –-504—NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B

 

2003 Jan 20-22

%

Less than $40,000

6

$40,000-$59,999

4

$60,000-$99,999

1

$100,000

7

$100,001-$299,999

9

$300,000-$499,999

2

$500,000-$999,999

15

$1,000,000

24

$1,000,001-$4,999,999

13

$5,000,000 or more

8

No opinion

11

Median

$1,000,000



* -- Less than 0.5%

vol. -- Volunteered

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/7981/half-young-people-expect-strike-rich.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030