Image: © CALI via Flickr

Odds of being a billionaire? About as likely as getting struck by lightning.

That's before you even start to factor in how much your family background influences your likelihood of being wealthy.

Have you ever wondered what the chances are of becoming rich? Well, for a start, it depends rather on what you mean by “rich”. If you’re talking Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates level of wealth, then we’ve got some bad news for you: according to Investopedia you’re about as likely to be hit by lightning as you are to become a billionaire. But what about just regular rich, which according to a majority of Brits, kicks in about when you start earning around £60k a year?

Incomes above £60,500 are earned by ten percent of Brits. But that doesn’t mean every baby born in the UK has a one in ten chance of growing up to be wealthy. Nor does it matter all that much how smart you are. Instead, one of the biggest factors to take into consideration is how well-off your parents are. Research by the London School of Economics found that a child of low academic ability from a high-income background was a third more likely to be a high earner than a high-ability child from a lower-income background. The reasoning is that well-off families generally have more time, money and contacts which can give their children better education and job opportunities.

This idea of whether we can easily transcend the economic circumstances of the family we were born into is known as intragenerational mobility. In the UK, and indeed in many other countries, intragenerational mobility is very low. It can be a hard one to tackle, because most parents want to give their kids the best possible chances in life, and wealthier families will always have advantages in that area.

Some people have suggested we could fix it by abolishing private schools, to make educational opportunities more equal. But that may not be enough: richer parents may simply move to the catchment areas of the best state schools, pushing up house prices (because more people want the homes than there are homes available, so they have to bid against each other) and therefore pushing out poorer families in the process.

Read our explainer on: intragenerational mobility

Recent articles

Reader Comments

  • WhereAreTheVikings

    What a terrible, terrible shame. Western Civilization nurtured capitalism, and now capitalism is destroying it. And these young people seem to welcome the invasion of their homeland. The media and schools have been very efficient in wiping out all traces of blood and soil.

    • prollawalllynotahumanoid

      Capitalism isn’t the problem. It’s corrupt politicians taking bribes and kickbacks from Globalists and the Chinese.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        Maybe I should have said crony capitalism. Although Italians importing Chinese to make “Italian leather” shoes is not crony capitalism. It is capitalism, pure and simple.

        • prollawalllynotahumanoid

          That would be crony capitalism and globalism combined. They aren’t concerned with the affect their policies have upon their citizens, the health and welfare of their society and culture or their economy. What it isn’t is fair-free trade to further national interests.

          • WhereAreTheVikings

            I’ve always seen them as one and the same, but perhaps they need to be named individually, just to bring home the point.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        But now that travel is so easy and borders are virtually down through H1bs and the like, theoretically you can’t blame capitalists for the pursuit of cheaper labor, although I do heartily blame them not being more patriotic than that. Perhaps the emerging nationalism will force them to voluntarily do what they should have morally been doing all along, and that is employing business practices that preserve their countries and nationalities. The government should be doing everything it can to encourage that, to the extent that small government should do anything but guard the borders and strictly, drastically, limit immigration.

      • Henry Lam

        It is China with its corrupted mindset affecting the world.

        • prollawalllynotahumanoid

          No it is not. Capitalism is the fairest and least corrupt system of all.

          Socialism and communism is based on authoritarianism, coercion and police intimidation. It has and always will be rife with criminality, bribes and kickbacks.

          Corruption can be anywhere but it is the very basis of socialism and communism.

    • Henry Lam

      The government is too weak. They do not understand the mindset of communists and how they educate their people. Those communist people are only loyal to their country and could be dangerous. The immigration law should only accept those who accepted multiculturalism and taught from a democratic education system. This virus events clearly has shown how stupid to take China as a friend.

      • WhereAreTheVikings

        The government is not too weak. Just weak-minded about some things.

  • Gabi Rodrigues

    For how many days can a country maximum close their borders to foreigners maximum? Like now, with the virus, everyone is using 30 days. Can it be more?