How Much Does It Take to Be ‘Rich’?

Even in a lousy economy, Americans still dream of becoming rich. But how big an income would it take for them to feel they’d reached that status? The latest 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll gives some indications.

Fielded at the tag end of February and beginning of March, the survey listed several household-income levels and asked respondents to pick the one that would suffice to qualify a person as “rich.” Sixteen percent said “at least $100,000” would do the trick, and 27 percent said “at least $300,000” would do so. A harder-to-please 22 percent said it would take a yearly household income of “at least $500,000” before they’d regard a person as rich. For 21 percent, it would take “at least $1 million,” and another 11 percent would need “a lot more than that.”

Respondents whose real-life income is over $100,000 were less demanding than you might guess when picking the threshold income a person would need to make it into the “rich” category. While just 3 percent chose “at least $100,000,” 31 percent said “at least $300,000” would be enough. Thirty-four percent said it would require “at last $500,000,” 19 percent “at least $1 million” and 12 percent “a lot more than that.”

What about the other end of the income scale? Among respondents whose income is under $15,000, 32 percent said a yearly household income of “at last $100,000” would be enough to qualify a person as rich. Twenty-six percent cited “at least $300,000,” 10 percent “at least $500,000,” and 14 percent “at least $1 million.” But the under-$15,000s were also the income cohort with the largest proportion of respondents saying it would take “a lot more than that.”

Publish date: April 19, 2010 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT