Will You Be Wealthy? Depends on What You Did in Your 20s

Maybe you should think twice about spending your 20s teaching English in the Burmese jungle. A new study by the Digitas advertising agency, entitled "Affluence in America: The New Consumer Landscape," finds that a "major predictor of wealth, ... is one's earning a high income in his or her twenties."

So what exactly is a "high income" in Great Recession America? According to Digitas, the currently benchmark for affluence is an annual salary of $200,000. And those who have made it into the six-digits club before they reach 35 "have a far greater chance of eventually crossing the golden threshold" later in life, if they haven't already done so.

Well, duh? But the conclusion that high-paying jobs lead to higher-paying jobs is not the most striking aspect of the Digitas study. What sticks out most is that mobility is a far greater challenge than perhaps ever before in American history, because wealth inequality has become so extreme. If you don't start with a sprint, it may no longer be possible to catch up by the middle of the race, when the other guy is on steroids.

And the numbers presented in the Digitas study make this dynamic plain: The top 1 percent of the country controls nearly 40 percent of the wealth. "We're at levels of income inequality that we haven't seen since the end of the gilded age," said Columbia University sociologist professor Shamus Rahman Khan. "We're about as unequal as we've ever been."

It's too soon to know whether the excesses of the bling age will be looked upon much in the way we now tour the mansions once owned by robber barons like John D. Rockefeller and Cornelius Vanderbilt. But advertisers like Digitas say that marketers should start to take note of the new landscape if they haven't already.

"Before the downturn, luxury marketers embraced the concept of 'mass affluence.' Buoyed by fatter stock portfolios and exploding equity in real estate -- and encouraged by easy credit -- a larger portion of the population considered itself wealthy enough to buy luxury goods and services," the study says.

"Marketers, in turn, cast a wider net, creating more affordable 'luxury products for a larger market. In 2011, however, in the wake of a massive reset, it appears that mass affluence may be a thing of the past -- and that luxury marketers should reconsider how their products appeal to elite consumers who increasingly value high quality and exclusivity."

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Boulderdash, didn't startmaking six figures until I was 39. Well into the six figures at 41.
Come again?

June 06 2011 at 8:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Rarely do people that make $200k or more a year end up becoming affluent. They tend to burn it up at the same rate they make it... The overtly expensive house, the car worth more than 2 to 4 of the cars on the highway in their vicinity, the excessive credit card debt, the lavish spending sprees, and the list goes on...

June 06 2011 at 3:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Great Mighty One

Most real "wealth" is inherited and rarely deserved. I've met many trust fund babies whose biggest worry is their stool consistency.

June 06 2011 at 2:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Im greatful that I don't have to read a line in the AOL post to get retirement information or most books & mags.In todays world young kids are just swiming up stream. they are lead down the wrong path in schools also it's a big myth that more school will land you more money. I just worked hard in a industry I loved and spent less $$$ than I made ( payed myself 2nd God 1st ) retired at 55 with more than I will ever spend in my life.

June 05 2011 at 10:47 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

sorry... more aol liberal crap. The 'go to school, get a job' mentality no longer works. Period. Read "Business of the 21st Century" by Robert Kiyosaki and make some life changing decisions. It worked for me and I am over 60. I was raised on the 'get a job' ethic of my dad. He worked all his life and at 86 has nothing in the way of retirement. I have followed the guidelines in several different books I have read and have my own business now with a future that I am in charge of. True freedom.

June 05 2011 at 10:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jennifer's comment

Thanks for the tip, jennifer! I'll have to check out that book. What kind of business did you start?

June 05 2011 at 11:51 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I think Obama will try to tax this group making 200K and upwards. He'll do his best to stunt the wealth in this country. He feels he's an outsider and resents people becoming wealthy.

June 05 2011 at 8:18 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bblond88's comment

yet he reported 4 million on his IRS statement.

June 05 2011 at 10:26 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
J Jacobs


June 05 2011 at 7:27 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

your wealth depends on 2 things

your rejection of Article 1 section 8 in the constitution , congress has the power to lay and collect taxes.

and here is the second thing watch this and learn who what why and when.


June 05 2011 at 6:09 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Maybe income inequality wouldn't be such an issue if the government stopped encouraging it's citizens to get onto the government dole. 51% of tax filers do not pay one penny in taxes, and a large percentage of them end up taking money out of the tax system. The top 5% of wage earners pay the vast majority of the taxes in this country. This government needs to enact real initiatives that create real jobs - not government ones that cannot sustain themselves.

June 05 2011 at 6:07 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

Wrong! Read your Bible.

June 05 2011 at 5:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Steve's comment

read it when I was in seminary. What part do you refer to? Book, Chapter and verse, please

June 05 2011 at 10:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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