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

March 1st, 1984

"America's Affluent" published in American Demographics


Stanley wrote the first definitive article about the characteristics of millionaires.  "America's Affluent" was published in American Demographics, March 1984.  The information contained in this article was extracted from the monograph that he was writing at the time entitled The Myths and Realities of the Affluent Market in America.


In the article, Stanley again documents the fact that most of the affluent in America are of the millionaire next door type.



  • The affluent American is more likely to be found buying a lawn mower at Sears than polishing a yacht at the local marina. . . fewer than 1 in 10 own a yacht.
  • The American millionaire's choice of a credit card shows that his spending reflects middle class values.  The wallets of 65 percent hold Sears cards, more than American Express Green or Gold or Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue . . . cards.
  • If a millionaire flies a private plane, he is only 1 of 20 who do so.  Under 6 percent of the typical millionaire's assets are held in such tangible or collectible forms as antiques, coin and stamp collections, precious gems or works of art.

The young heir who squanders the family fortune on riotous living still exists.  But most of America's affluent fit a far different profile.  In Stanley's studies, a consistent finding has been that about 80 percent of those who household net worth is over $1 million have acquired less than 15 percent of their fortune from gifts or inheritance. "Why does so little inherited wealth exist in the U.S.?  One reason is that the widows of wealthy men spend their husband's fortunes.  Most personal wealth in America, past and present, has been generated from business ownership . . .  .When a wealthy owner dies and there is no one in the family with either the ability or the desire to operate the business, the assets are often liquidated. . . .  The wives of most millionaires are not trained or even encouraged to manage the affairs of a corporation.  Most widows are content with the liquidation of the organization and the consumption of the proceedings.  Wealthy men are a prime market for personal trust services offered by fiduciaries who will one day oversee the financial affairs of affluent widows."