Most people work hard to provide for their family hoping to generate enough money to afford the basics. Their only chance at vast fortune is a lottery ticket.
For other families, they need only wait patiently for their fortunes to come — the result of a genetic lottery they were lucky enough to win.
No family is wealthier than the Waltons of Wal-Mart.
Sam Walton opened the first Wal-Mart in 1962 in Arkansas after a 20-year career managing stores. Twenty years later, Walton’s fortune had grown to $690 million, according to the first Forbes 400 listing of the wealthiest individuals in the country in 1982. Adjusting for inflation, that figure rises to $1.81 billion in 2018 dollars.
A generation later, Sam Walton has long since passed, while the Walton family fortune has ballooned. It now boasts not one, but seven members of the Forbes 400, with a combined family worth of $169.7 billion.
In other words, the Walton family saw their wealth rise by more than 9,000 percent over the course of a generation. And for the heirs of Sam Walton, their only real contribution to generating this fortune has been hard waiting, not hard working.
That was just one finding in a new report I co-authored for the Institute for Policy Studies. We found that wealth dynasties like the Waltons now loom more dramatically over ordinary Americans than ever.