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Six Wal-Mart heirs are wealthier than U.S.' entire bottom 30%

December 9, 2011 |  9:47 am

Walton
Does an annual income of $150,000 make a person rich? Depends on whom you ask.

As Americans fret over how to tax the rich and Occupy protesters rail against the 1%, new reports find that the definition of wealth is a tenuous one.

First, some context: The wealth of the 1% is about 225 times greater than that of the typical family, compared to 125 times in 1962, according to analysis from labor economist Sylvia Allegreto with UC Berkeley.

And based on the most recent data, the cumulative wealth of the Forbes 400 was $1.54 trillion -- equal to the worth of the bottom half of American families.

That means the $69.7 billion held by the six Walton relatives of Wal-Mart founders Sam and James Walton in 2007 was equal to the net worth of the bottom 30% of Americans, according to Allegreto.
Today, she said, the Walton pot is estimated to be around $93 billion.

Household net worth from July to September fell 4% to $57.4 trillion in its sharpest drop since September 2008, the Federal Reserve said Thursday.

The median income to be considered “rich” is $150,000 a year, according to a new Gallup poll -- a threshold that has increased since 2003, when Americans said they’d be rich with $120,000 a year.

But among different groups of people, what makes one “rich” seems to be relative -- just as the meaning of “luxury” changes for Americans.

About 15% of respondents said it would take $1 million a year or more to fall into that category. But three in 10 say that they’d qualify as prosperous even pulling in less than six figures.

The median household income is $50,000, according ot the U.S. Census Bureau. About half of Americans believe that affluence equates to at least $1 million in net worth, including cash, stocks, real estate and other investments.

Men, as well as people younger than 50, said they need more than $150,000 before calling themselves rich, compared to a $100,000 benchmark for women and older respondents.

College graduates, households with children under age 18 and residents in cities and suburbs said they require $200,000 a year to categorize themselves as well off. Non-graduates, those without young children and people living in small towns or rural areas put the cutoff at $100,000.

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Chairman Rob Walton. Credit: April L. Brown / Associated Press

The 1% more likely to volunteer, care about politics, study fin
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