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Chart: What Assets Make Up Wealth?

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Chart: What Assets Make Up Wealth?

Chart: What Assets Make Up Wealth?

A look at asset distributions, based on net worth tiers

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

A person’s wealth can be made up of many different assets.

Net worth, the measure we use to gauge wealth, is actually the sum of all of a person’s assets after subtracting liabilities (such as loans). Therefore, net worth can be comprised of liquid savings, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, real estate, vehicles, retirement accounts (IRAs, pensions), and many other types of assets.

But how does the composition of net worth differ for a person with $100k in net worth, versus that of a billionaire?

Today’s chart uses data from the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances from 2016 to find out.

Simplifying the Data

Based on this original work done by Ben Weber of Windfall Data, we’ve since taken the data and tried to clean up the categories to make it more digestible.

For example, residential real estate and non-residential real estate were combined into a single category, and bonds, savings bonds, and certificates of deposit were merged into a single fixed income investment category.

The end result is a net worth composition for each of the six different wealth brackets, which are each grouped based on size. For example, in the $10k bracket, all five-figure net worths ($10k-$99k) are grouped together, and so on.

Different Makeups

The composition of wealth ends up varying considerably between lower and higher net worths:

Primary Residence:
This is by far the most important asset class for all net worth tiers up to $1 million.

Vehicle:
For the $10k net worth tier, the value of a vehicle is more than investments such as pensions, IRAs, mutual funds, stocks, etc.

Stocks:
The proportion of directly-held stock increases up the tiers, and billionaires hold a significant portion of wealth in stocks.

Business Interests:
Most multi-millionaires or billionaires are not liquid, and have most of their wealth in business interests.

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Visualized: The Richest Families in America

The net worth of the 50 richest families in America combines for $1.2 trillion. Here’s how multi-generational family wealth stacks up in the country.

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richest families in america

Visualizing the Richest Families in America

When we think about the richest people in America, individual names often come to mind like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates. But often, it’s the richest families in America that hold a deeper legacy, and sometimes, even deeper pockets.

The country’s 50 richest families hold a collective wealth of $1.2 trillion. This ranking goes beyond nuclear family units and self-made fortunes, and it instead measures the wealth of multi-generational or extended families.

Our visualization, which leverages the latest data from Forbes, reveals the wealthiest families in America and the enterprises that helped them earn their billions.

Editor’s note on methodology: in this ranking, Forbes leaves out self-made entrepreneurs that appear with their nuclear families on the billionaires list. For example, Jeff Bezos founded Amazon and Rupert Murdoch founded News Corp, but these successes did not come from family wealth that was passed down to them.

Family Matters

Say the name Rockefeller or Vanderbilt, and everyone knows who you’re talking about—but how do these household names hold up in the modern rankings?

Below are the 50 richest families in America, based on net worth:

RankFamilyNet WorthOrigin of Wealth 
#1Walton Family$247.0BWalmart
#2Koch Family$100.0BKoch Industries 
#3Mars Family$94.0BMars Inc. 
#4Cargill-MacMillan Family$47.0BCargill Inc. 
#5Lauder Family$40.0BEstee Lauder 
#6S.C. Johnson Family$37.0BSC Johnson
#7Edward Johnson Family$36.0BFidelity
#8Cox Family$34.5BCox Enterprises
#9Pritzker Family$32.5BHyatt Hotels
#10Newhouse Family$30.0BCondé Nast
#11Duncan Family$22.0BEnterprise Products Partners L.P. 
#12Hearst Family$21.0BHearst Corporation
#13Brown Family$20.4BBrown–Forman
#14Marshall Family$18.5BKoch Industries (6% stake)
#15Butt Family$17.8BH-E-B
#16Busch Family$17.6BAnheuser-Busch
#17Du Pont Family$16.0BDuPont
#18Hunt Family$15.5BHunt Oil and Petro-Hunt
#19Dorrance Family$15.0BCampbell Soup Co. 
#20Ziff Family$15.0BZiff-Davis
#21Cathy Family$14.2BChick-fil-A
#22Stryker Family$14.0BStryker
#23Goldman Family$13.2BReal Estate
#24Rollins Family$13.1BOrkin Pest control
#25Gallo Family$12.4BE&J Gallo Winery
#26Reyes Family$12.0BReyes Holdings
#27Kohler Family$11.7BKohler Co.
#28Mellon Family$11.5BBanking
#29Smith Family$11.3BIllinois Tool Works, Northern Trust
#30Bass Family$10.8BOil 
#31Sackler Family$10.8BPurdue Pharma
#32Johnson Family$10.7BJohnson & Johnson
#33Marriott Family$10.4BMarriott International 
#34Crown Family$10.2BInvestments
#35Hughes Family$10.2B Public Storage Inc.
#36Pigott Family$10.1BPaccar
#37Shoen Family$9.0BU-Haul
#38Fisher Family$8.9BGap Inc. 
#39Jenkins Family$8.8BPublix Super Markets 
#40Chao Family$8.6BWestlake Chemical Corp.
#41(Charles & Rupert) Johnson Family$8.6BFranklin Resources Inc. 
#42Phipps Family$8.6BCarnegie Steel, Bessemer Trust
#43Rockefeller Family$8.4BStandard Oil
#44E.W. Scripps Family$8.4BScripps Network Interactive
#45Bechtel Family$8.3BBechtel
#46Gore Family$8.2BGore-Tex
#47Durst Family$8.1BReal Estate
#48Taylor Family$7.8BEnterprise Rent-A-Car
#49Simplot Family$7.7BSimplot
#50Barbey Family$7.3BVF Corp

The richest family in the U.S. is the Waltons, founders of Walmart. Their net worth adds to an approximate $247 billion, making them also the richest family in the world. Over the last year, they’ve grown their family fortune by $25 billion, equal to nearly $3 million per hour.

Interestingly, the Vanderbilts—the railroad tycoons that were once the richest family in the country in the late 19th century—have been ousted from the rankings entirely. Other notable American families, like Ford and Astor, have lost their place on the list as well.

On the other hand, the Rockefellers still hold their status today, ranked at number 43 with a net worth of $8.4 billion. John D. Rockefeller became America’s first billionaire back in 1916, despite the breaking up of Standard Oil for antitrust reasons.

Building Wealth

Over the last five years, nearly every family on this list has seen wealth increase. Many of the behemoth companies on which these families built their fortunes are staples in America, like Campbell’s Soup, Cargill, Dixie Cups, Estee Lauder, and M&Ms and Snickers.

For example, the South’s beloved fast food chain, Chick-fil-A, was founded by the Cathy family and generated $12.67 billion in sales as of the latest annual data, making it the third most popular chain restaurant in the country.

Some of the newer families to make the list also owe it to the success of their enterprises:

  • The Kohler family: Kohler Co. (manufacturers of kitchenware, plumbing products, furniture, etc.)
  • The Taylor family: Enterprise Rent-A-Car (car rental services)

However, a few families have experienced significant losses since the last Forbes ranking. Here’s a look at some notable net worth decreases:

FamilyCompanyChange in Net Worth from 2015-2020
HearstHearst Corporation$-7.0B
RockefellerStandard Oil $-2.6B
SacklerPurdu Pharma$-2.2B
FisherGap Inc.Negative growth (exact $ amount unknown)
Johnson (Charles and Rupert)Mutual FundsNegative growth (exact $ amount unknown)

Purdue Pharma recently filed for bankruptcy. The Sackler family’s plan is to reformulate the company into a new venture whose profits would go towards the opioid crisis, for which they are largely blamed. It would also cost the family around $4.3 billion directly.

Keeping it in the Family

While some families may have experienced decreases in their wealth, for many this is just a small bump in the road.

Overall, the richest families in America are the keepers of immense wealth that has accumulated over generations. For some, their names are now cultural landmarks across the U.S. and their brands have become synonymous with life in America.

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The Richest People in the World in 2021

Among the uber-rich, just ten people amassed over $567B in less than a year. Who are the richest people in the world as of 2021?

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Richest People in the World

Visualizing the Richest People in the World

Over $567 billion has been amassed by the 10 richest people in the world in less than a year.

To put that into perspective, that’s more than sevenfold the wealth accumulated by the top 10 in the time period prior. As just one example, Elon Musk witnessed his wealth increase at least 500% in the last year. Meanwhile, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, has earned a cool extra $68.6 billion.

With data from the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List, we navigate how the wealth of various uber-affluent groups have changed since the beginning of the pandemic.

The 10 Richest People in the World

With a net worth of $182 billion, Jeff Bezos is the wealthiest in the world.

After 26 years, Bezos announced he would step down as Amazon CEO to become executive chairman to focus on Blue Origin, among other endeavors. The private company states that it is “opening the promise of space to all” and is planning to launch New Glenn, its first rocket in the second half of 2022.

Based on data as of March 1, 2021 here are the 10 wealthiest individuals worldwide:

RankNameSourceNet Worth Mar 2021Net Worth Mar 2020Change 2020-2021
1Jeff BezosAmazon$182B$113B$68.6B
2Elon MuskTesla, SpaceX$164B$25B$139.1B
3
Bernard Arnault & family
LVMH$157B$76B$80.8B
4Bill GatesMicrosoft$124B$98B$26.2B
5Warren BuffettBerkshire Hathaway$95B$68B$27.6B
6Mark ZuckerbergFacebook$95B$55B$39.9B
7Larry Ellisonsoftware$91B$59B$31.6B
8Larry PageGoogle$90B$51B$39.4B
9Sergey BrinGoogle$88B$49B$38.5B
10Daniel GilbertQuicken Loans$83B$7B$76.2B
Total Change$567.9B

Top 10 Wealth Growth

With a stunning 1,172% growth rate year-over-year, Daniel Gilbert, CEO of the largest mortgage lending company in the U.S., has seen his wealth multiply the fastest.

Gilbert, who founded Quicken Loans at 22, took its parent company public in August.

Richest People in the World

With his cult-like following, Elon Musk has also seen tremendous wealth growth. At one point Musk even briefly surpassed Jeff Bezos as the richest person in the world.

This is impressive, since Jeff Bezos’ wealth ballooned over 70% in the same time frame. Similarly, Zuckerberg, Gates, and Buffett have all seen double-digit growth.

Who’s In and Who’s Out?

Among the newest to join the billionaire’s club is Whitney Wolfe Herd, CEO of Bumble at 31 years old.

Wolfe Herd is the youngest American woman to take a company public ever, with the February 2021 IPO raising $2.2 billion. Bumble is the second-largest dating company to go public after Match Group, which owns 45 dating companies including Tinder.

By contrast, last year’s youngest billionaire, Kylie Jenner, fell off the list after allegedly inflating her net worth. Interestingly, the Kardashian’s took great lengths to show Forbes the extent of her wealth, including showing them their tax returns along with invitations to their mansions.

Still, Jenner’s net worth stands at roughly $700 million.

A New Gilded Age?

Given the staggering growth of the ultra-wealthy in recent years, today’s wealth concentration is now comparable to America’s Gilded Age.

At the time, John D. Rockefeller was the richest person in the world—worth roughly $285 billion in today’s terms. His businesses produced 1.6% of total U.S. economic output.

By comparison, Jeff Bezos, at $182 billion, still has a little ways to go just yet.

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