Affluent Research Timeline

January 13th, 1979
Speech for the New York Stock Exchange

February 1st, 1981
National Affluent Study (1981-1982)

1979-1985

June 1st, 1980
Conducted National Study of Millionaires for Chase Manhattan...

March 1st, 1984
"America's Affluent" published in American Demographics

June 1st, 1980

Conducted National Study of Millionaires for Chase Manhattan Bank (June 1980 to February 1981)


Dr. Stanley was asked to conduct a comprehensive national study of the millionaire population in America.  The sponsor was a large money center bank.  During the planning stage, an event took place that had a major influence upon the direction of his career.  Webster's defines epiphany as a sudden insight . . . a moment of revelation.  Dr. Stanley encountered his epiphany about the millionaire next door segment one morning at a task force meeting with his client and a fellow collaborator to the project, Jon Robbin.  "Just in passing from the topic of sampling parameters Jon, who had profiled more than 200,000 neighborhoods throughout America, said 'about one-half of the millionaires in America don't live in upscale neighborhoods.'"  According to Dr. Stanley, "that's when the light went on inside my head.  The really compelling story was not the millionaire population in general.  Rather it was the low profile millionaire, the ones who did not dress the part, the frugal ones who drove nondescript makes of motor vehicles, those who lived in modest homes situated in working class/lower middle class neighborhoods.  Yes, from that moment on, I began to focus on studying and writing about the millionaire next door types."     


More recently Stanley has discovered that more than one half of the millionaires don't live in upscale neighborhoods or expensive homes.  The research that Stanley conducted, which took nine months to complete, was the first comprehensive national study of the size, geographic distribution, and financial lifestyles of millionaires.  The key findings were found to be highly congruent with those found in numerous studies Stanley has conducted since that time.



  • Most (84.0 percent) were self made millionaires.
  • The majority achieved millionaire status by minimizing their realized (taxable) income and maximizing their unrealized income.
  • More than nine in ten (94.0 percent) were male; 95.3 percent were married; and, in 90.0 percent of these cases, the male head of household was the main financial/investment decision maker.
  • Among their most important goals/financial lifestyle patterns were minimizing taxes and building wealth via long term capital appreciation.
  • Throughout America high net worth households are much more highly diffused geographically than high income households.  High income households are more highly concentrated in upscale neighborhoods.  Often people with high incomes substitute becoming wealthy for living in an expensive home situated inside a hyper consuming neighborhood.