More than anything else, our research findings related to becoming economically successful on our own have more to do with behaviors related to saving, spending, investing, and planning than characteristics that we cannot control, or have little choice over, like how we were raised. We’ve even seen, through the research we’ve conducted at DataPoints, that behaviors related to being frugal, monitoring finances, being focused, and ignoring social pressures about lifestyle, add incrementally to the prediction of net worth above demographic factors like age and income. In other words, even though age and income are great predictors of wealth, behaviors matter. And as we have previously explained and quantified, they matter a lot.
But it is still the case that when we conduct research related to the affluent in America through sampling, we are able to put together a demographic portrait of the typical millionaire in that sample, taking the primary “manager” of household finances. In the survey that comprised part of the research for The Next Millionaire Next Door, as well as in previous research and publications, we requested that the primary financial decision-maker in the household be the primary responding party. In our most recent survey for The Next Millionaire Next Door, 87% of the respondents were men. This demographic data point is presented as part of the “portrait” of a millionaire today in Chapter 1 of the book. As data researchers we do believe that it is relevant and interesting that 87% of our sample identified a male as the primary financial decision-maker in the household, but this of course does not mean that males are more likely to become millionaires. On its face it reflects nothing more than a common division of labor within a household unit, more common in older cohorts (i.e., generations). In light of the fact that one of our missions in writing The Next Millionaire Next Door was to conduct a 20-year update to the data presented in the original work, we felt it was necessary and useful to present the “profile” data in the same fashion as the first book.
So fear not. Women are equally equipped with capability to become financially successful: behaviors transcend gender groups (and other demographic groups, too). For data specific to women and wealth, take a look at Millionaire Women Next Door, released in 2004 and in the case studies included in other publications. You’ll also see a wider range of demographic groups in our research at DataPoints looking at emerging affluent and millionaire samples.