A Breakdown of Wealth, from Middle Class to the Top 1%
Just as household wealth varies greatly across the population, the composition of that wealth changes as well. Simply put, the person next to you at the grocery store will likely have a much different asset mix than, say, Warren Buffett.
Today’s chart breaks down the differences in the composition of wealth between middle income, upper income, and ultra wealthy (top 1%) of American households to help us better understand the building blocks that make up net worth. Let’s dive in.
Middle Income: Home is Where the Wealth is
It’s no surprise that the principal residence is the cornerstone of net worth for most Americans in the middle class. For households that fall in this wide range ($0 to $471k of net worth) the combination of housing and pension accounts make up nearly 80% of total wealth on average.
Assets like stocks and mutual funds only make up about 4% of wealth in this income bracket, partially mirroring the trend of lower stock market participation in recent years.
As we move up the income ladder, however, this situation changes quite a bit.
Upper Income: A Diversified Portfolio
If a household has a net worth that ranges between $471,000 and $10.2 million, it is considered to fall in the upper income band above. This represents the 20% richest households in the U.S., minus the top 1%, which are put in a separate bracket.
For this group, the principal residence makes up a smaller slice of the wealth pie. Instead, we see a higher mix of financial assets like stocks and mutual funds, as well as business equity and real estate. Almost half of households in this group own real estate in addition to their principal residence.
As households become wealthier, we tend to see a lower share of liquid assets as compared with the other components of net worth.
The Top 1%: The Business Equity Bulge
In the richest 1% of households, the principal residence makes up a mere 7.6% of assets. At this stage, almost half of assets fall under the category of business equity and real estate.
A prime example of this is Jeff Bezos. The lion’s share of the Amazon founder’s net worth is tied to the value of his company. Another example is President Trump, whose sprawling real estate empire comprises two-thirds of his estimated $3.1 billion net worth.
One of the more prominent features of the ultra rich wealth bracket is a much higher level of financial asset ownership. In fact, the top 1% of households own over 40% of stocks.
As well, this tiny group of ultra wealthy households earns 22% of total income, up from 8% in the 1970s.
Chart: Which Universities Have the Richest Graduates?
Today’s chart ranks the top 25 universities in the world by ultra-high net worth (UHNW) alumni and total wealth. Does your institution make the cut?
Chart: Which Universities Have the Richest Graduates?
Higher education is often considered the first rung in the ladder of success.
That’s why thousands of students flock to top-tier universities around the world, hoping to translate their degrees into financial outcomes. After all, a degree from specific institutions can often mean that a wealthy and secure future is in the books.
With a new fall term just around the corner, today’s chart relies on the third annual Wealth-X report ranking of global universities with the most ultra-high net worth (UHNW) alumni. We’ve also tracked their combined wealth, and how much each UHNW alumni makes on average.
Analyzing UHNW Riches
The Wealth-X database defines ultra-high net worth alumni as those who own at least $30 million in assets. In addition, the alumni figures are based on the actual known UHNW individuals from each university, then projected based on the sample size to predict total alumni within the global UHNW population.
One caveat to note is that both bachelor’s and master’s degree-holders have been considered, while UHNW individuals who may have attended more than one university have been counted twice. With that in mind, let’s dive in.
Upholding a Stellar Reputation
It’s immediately noticeable that a majority of universities on the list are located in the United States, with a high concentration on the East Coast—including the elite Ivy League.
Established in 1636, Harvard dwarfs all its Ivy League counterparts for the richest graduates. Its 13,650 UHNW alumni is double that of second-place Stanford (5,580 UHNW alumni), with twice the total wealth to boot.
One way that Harvard falls short is when average UHNW alumni wealth is considered in this chart, with Stanford beating it by a difference of $170 million per graduate. Regardless, it’s clear Harvard graduates go on to have a significant impact on the world. Notable alumni include political leaders such as former U.S. President Barack Obama, and billionaires such as Michael Bloomberg.
Interestingly, Princeton climbs the charts for total alumni wealth ($1.1 trillion), despite a lower UHNW alumni count of just over 2,000—but this also puts its wealth per graduate at a high of $516 million. Notable alumni from Princeton include Jeff Bezos and Steve Forbes. Meanwhile, Brown and Dartmouth are the only Ivy universities that don’t make the list at all.
Excellence Outside the U.S.
Zooming out, private universities dominate most of this list of richest graduates. In the United Kingdom, Cambridge, Oxford, and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) have over 6,500 UHNW alumni combined. This represents a total of $1.08 trillion in wealth, an average of $174 million per UHNW grad.
Notable alumni and achievements from these institutions include:
- Cambridge: Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking
- Oxford: 69 Nobel prize winners, Stephen Hawking, JRR Tolkien
- LSE: 18 Nobel prize winners, including political leaders
*LSE’s label has been misrepresented in the original report as #26 instead of the actual #25.
Nearby in France, the graduate business school Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires (INSEAD) has a total of 1,956 UHNW alumni and $356 billion in combined wealth—contributed by CEOs of companies like Credit Suisse, Royal Dutch Shell, Ericsson, and Lego.
It’s impressive that the National University of Singapore (NUS) enters the list, with 1,890 UHNW alumni and an average of $46.6 million to their name. Graduates from NUS have gone on to become Singaporean prime ministers and presidents, as well as high-ranking officials in the WHO and UN Security Council.
Here are the full statistics for the top 25 universities worldwide—does yours make the cut?
|Rank||University||Total Wealth||UHNW Alumni||Wealth per UHNW Graduate|
|1||🇺🇸 Harvard University||$4.7T||13,650||$349M|
|2||🇺🇸 Stanford University||$2.9T||5,580||$519M|
|3||🇺🇸 University of Pennsylvania||$1.8T||5,575||$319M|
|4||🇺🇸 Columbia University||$1.5T||3,925||$382M|
|5||🇺🇸 Princeton University||$1.1T||2,180||$516M|
|6||🇺🇸 Massachusetts Institute of Technology||$990B||2,785||$355M|
|7||🇺🇸 Yale University||$777B||2,400||$323M|
|8||🇺🇸 University of California Berkeley||$760B||2,385||$318M|
|9||🇺🇸 New York University||$712B||3,380||$210M|
|10||🇺🇸 The University of Chicago||$707B||2,405||$293M|
|11||🇺🇸 The University of Michigan||$691B||1,970||$350M|
|12||🇺🇸 The University of Southern California||$548B||2,645||$207M|
|13||🇺🇸 Cornell University||$483B||2,245||$215M|
|14||🇺🇸 The University of Texas at Austin||$463B||2,195||$210M|
|15||🇬🇧 University of Cambridge||$390B||2,760||$141M|
|16||🇺🇸 Northwestern University||$389B||2,725||$142M|
|17||🇺🇸 The University of California Los Angeles||$375B||1,945||$192M|
|18||🇫🇷 Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires||$356B||1,965||$181M|
|19||🇬🇧 University of Oxford||$349B||2,290||$152M|
|20||🇬🇧 London School of Economics and Political Science||$342B||1,495||$228M|
|21||🇺🇸 University of Miami||$309B||1,700||$181M|
|22||🇺🇸 Boston University||$277B||1,640||$168M|
|23||🇺🇸 University of Virginia||$246B||1,650||$149M|
|24||🇺🇸 The University of Notre Dame||$179B||2,085||$85M|
|25||🇸🇬 National University of Singapore||$88B||1,890||$46M|
Where’s the Money, Really?
According to the report, a majority of UHNW alumni from these universities are “self-made” millionaires, who became successful through their own efforts rather than relying on family fortune or social status.
Of course, the name of a university is one step to climb on the ladder. What’s often glossed over is how steep the tuition fees at private institutions are, which can rack up significant student debt over time.
Graduates from Boston University, Columbia University, and Northwestern University relied the most on inheritance for their wealth, between 10-12%. A combination of both self-made and inherited wealth sources are also common for UHNW alumni—and it’s not a stretch to say that it helped them pay off debts before focusing on their wealth creation.
The 25 Best Warren Buffett Quotes in One Infographic
A collection of the best Warren Buffett quotes, accompanied with illustrations, to close out our infographic series on the famous investor.
Warren Buffett is famous for his wit, and will likely go down in history as one of the most quotable and influential investors of all time.
With this week marking his 89th birthday, we thought it was a good time to highlight the 25 best Warren Buffett quotes accumulated through his lengthy and prestigious career.
The Warren Buffett Series
Part 5: Wisdom from the Oracle
Today’s infographic highlights the smartest and most insightful quotes from Buffett on investing, business, and life.
It’s the fifth and final part of the Warren Buffett Series, which we’ve done in partnership with finder.com, a personal finance site that helps people make better decisions – whether they want to find the right credit card or become the next big value investor.
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After sifting through hundreds of quotes from the Oracle of Omaha, we’ve chosen the best 25 of them and sorted them into a few select categories:
Keeping it Simple
Buffett is known for putting his money in “no-brainer” businesses (i.e. Coca-Cola) that are simple to run, with long-term competitive advantages.
|Buffett Quotes on Keeping It Simple|
|#1||“Never invest in a business you cannot understand.”|
|#2||“I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars: I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over.”|
|#3||“I try to buy stock in businesses that are so wonderful that an idiot can run them. Because sooner or later, one will.”|
|#4||“A ham sandwich could run Coca-Cola."|
|#5||“Beware of geeks bearing formulas.”|
|#6||"You don't need to be a rocket scientist. Investing is not a game where the guy with the 160 IQ beats the guy with 130 IQ."|
|#7||“Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No.1”|
For Buffett, how someone responds to different situations is far more important than their actual skills or knowledge level. Investors must not care what the crowd thinks, and they must be patient, focused, and decisive to maximize their potential.
|Buffett Quotes on Temperament|
|#8||"The most important quality for an investor is temperament, not intellect. You need a temperament that neither derives great pleasure from being with the crowd or against the crowd."|
|#9||“It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who has been swimming naked.”|
|#10||“Our favorite holding period is forever.”|
|#11||“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”|
|#12||“An investor should act as though he had a lifetime decision card with just twenty punches on it.”|
Buffett’s decision-making is driven by an assessment of value. Is the asset he is buying worth way more than it is currently being priced at by the fickle Mr. Market – if so, he’ll lay down his chips.
|Buffett Quotes on Value|
|#13||"Price is what you pay; value is what you get."|
|#14||"Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful."|
|#15||“It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price, than a fair company at a wonderful price.”|
A Midwestern gentleman, Buffett follows a simple and friendly style of business conduct, with deals often bounded by one’s promise or a simple handshake.
|Buffett Quotes on Conduct|
|#16||"You can't make a good deal with a bad person."|
|#17||"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently."|
At 89 years old, Buffett knows a thing or two about business and life. As a result, he’s developed some unique perspectives.
|Buffett Quotes on Perspective|
|#18||“In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.”|
|#19||“If past history was all that is needed to play the game of money, the richest people would be librarians.”|
|#20||“Failing conventionally is the route to go; as a group, lemmings may have a rotten image, but no individual lemming has ever received bad press”|
|#21||"In my view, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal."|
Life and Success
How did he build such a successful career, and how does one man generate so much wisdom?
|Buffett Quotes on Life and Success|
|#22||“The most important investment you can make is in yourself.”|
|#23||“If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.”|
|#24||"I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life."|
|#25||"My life couldn't be happier. In fact, it'd be worse if I had six or eight houses. So, I have everything I need to have, and I don't need any more."|
With $89.5 billion to his name, Warren Buffett is not only known for his self-made wealth and investing acumen, but also his wit and quotability. We hope this selection of the best Warren Buffett quotes helps you think about life and investing differently, and that the legendary investor continues to share his wisdom with the world.
Want more Buffett?
Don’t forget to check out the other parts of our Buffett infographic series:
- Part 1: The Remarkable Early Years of Warren Buffett
- Part 2: Inside Warren Buffett’s Brain
- Part 3: The Warren Buffett Empire in One Giant Chart
- Part 4: Warren Buffett’s Wins & Fails
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