The economic sectors where the very wealthy are most closely connected to elite education are hedge funds, venture capital, the internet, law and finance. Those fields may require greater smarts, better training and stronger elite social connections. Real estate, automobiles, leisure products and mining were the sectors least-closely connected to elite education. Many of us have an image of those enterprises as more hands-on, more connected to the retail experience (except mining), and possibly lower in social prestige.
Inside the group of very wealthy Americans, the relationship between wealth and elite education is extremely weak. So going to Harvard may help you get into this club, but it doesn’t seem to boost your chances of climbing to its top.
For all the talk of Sweden and Austria as relatively egalitarian societies, they are also the countries where the greatest proportion of high-net-worth individuals inherited their wealth: 43.8 percent and 49.6 percent, respectively. In the U.S., inherited wealth accounts for only 12.6 percent of the very wealthy individuals in the study’s sample.