Income inequality in the US has hit a record high. Meet the 15 richest American family 'dynasties,' who have a combined net worth of $618 billion.

Rick T. Wilking/Getty ImagesThe Walton siblings share a $US169.7 billion fortune.

Income inequality in America is getting worse. In 2018, it reached the highest level it’s ever been since the US Census began tracking it 50 years ago, reported Taylor Telford for The Washington Post, citing the US Census 2018 American Community Survey released this week.

Dynastic wealth, which has been bemoaned by Warren Buffett, may be one of the reasons why.

In October 2018, the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies’“Billionaire Bonanza” report examined the growing concentration of wealth in the US by looking at 15 dynastically wealthy families from the latest Forbes 400 list (also published in October 2018) and data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finance (which is from 2016 and has been adjusted for inflation to 2018 dollars).

“Each of these family’s wealth comes from companies started by an earlier generation, either a parent or more distant ancestor,” the report said. “Each of them also represents a wealth dynasty passing generation to generation free from interruption.”

Read more: Meet the Mars family, heirs to the Snickers and M&M’s candy empire, who spent years avoiding the limelight and are America’s third-wealthiest family ‘dynasty’

It found that the median American family owns just more than $US80,000 in household wealth, while the 15 family dynasties own a combined $US618 billion.

Since 1982, the combined wealth of the top three families – the Waltons, the Kochs, and the Marses – has increased by 5,868%, totaling $US348.7 billion.

Here’s a closer look at how they and the rest of the wealthy dynastic families from the Forbes 400 built their wealth, ranked from lowest net worth to highest net worth. The estimated total wealth for each family is a sum of each individual family member’s wealth listed on the Forbes 400 and does not include the wealth of any family members not on the Forbes 400.

Note that the Forbes 400 doesn’t encompass all of America’s wealthy dynastic families – some individual family members have less than the $US2.1 billion in personal wealth needed to make the list.

15. The Cathy family is worth $US11 billion thanks to its fried-chicken fortune.

Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Pinewood Studios GroupDan Cathy.

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report

The family’s wealth comes from fast-food chain Chick-fil-A, founded in 1967 by Samuel Truett Cathy.

Courtesy of Chick-fil-ASamuel Truett Cathy.

Source: Forbes

His sons, Bubba and Dan, share the family’s wealth, with a fortune of $US5.5 billion each.

Mike Stewart/Associated Press

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report

14. The Stryker family built its $US11.1 billion fortune with Stryker Corp., a medical-equipment company founded by Homer Stryker.

Taylor Hill/Getty ImagesJon Stryker.

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report

His grandchildren — siblings Pat, Jon, and Ronda — each inherited a stake in the company, which generated $US12 billion in sales in 2017. Ronda is the only sibling to serve on the board.

Bennett Raglin/Getty ImagesRonda and Jon Stryker.

Source: Forbes

All three are philanthropists and have donated at least $US855 million collectively to various causes and foundations.

Noam Galai/Getty ImagesJon Stryker.

Source: Forbes,Forbes, Forbes

13. The Goldman family owns a good chunk of New York City real estate with Solil Management, which has built them a fortune of $US13.2 billion.

oneinchpunch/ShutterstockNew York City skyline.

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report, Business Insider

Sol Goldman began the real-estate firm in the 1950s by buying foreclosed properties at bargain prices. Today, it has a 17% stake in the World Trade Centre developments.

Sirinyim/ShutterstockOne World Trade Centre in downtown Manhattan.

Source: Business Insider

His daughter Jane Goldman runs the company, which has assets worth an estimated $US12 billion. She owns 25% of the company with her siblings.

Katie Warren/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider

12. The Bass family has a net worth of $US13.3 billion thanks to an oil fortune.

Patrick McMullan/Getty ImagesSid Bass with his wife, Mercedes Bass.

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report

In 1959, the oil tycoon Sid Richardson left his nephews Robert, Sid, Lee, and Edward $US2.8 million each. They then diversified the money.

David Woo/Getty ImagesSid Bass.

Source: Forbes

The four brothers received $US5.6 billion in stock after selling their oil company to ExxonMobil in 2017. They could reap payouts worth up to $US1 billion.

Eric Glenn/Shutterstock

Source: Forbes

11. The Ziffs have a fortune worth $US14.4 billion that began with the magazine publisher Ziff Davis Inc., which published PC Magazine.

Getty/Scott OlsonDirk Ziff (right).

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report

William Ziff Jr. sold the magazine publisher for $US1.4 billion in 1994. His sons, Daniel, Robert, and Dirk, grow their inheritance through Ziff Brothers Investments.

Patrick McMullan/Getty ImagesDirk Ziff with his wife, Natasha.

Source: Business Insider

They reportedly own several homes in Aspen, Colorado, have put their money toward philanthropic efforts, and invest their billions with managers who used to work at their hedge funds.

Patrick McMullan/Getty ImagesDaniel Ziff with his wife, Leslie.

Source: Business Insider

10. The S.C. Johnson family has a fortune of $US18.2 billion.

Theo Wargo/Getty ImagesHerbert Fisk Johnson III.

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report

S.C. Johnson, which produces cleaning products such as Pledge, Glade, and Windex, was founded by its namesake in 1882 and eventually taken over by his son, Herbert Fisk Johnson.

Kelly Tippett/Shutterstock

Source: Business Insider

Herbert Fisk Johnson died in 1928 without a will, and the family reportedly feuded over the inheritance until it was eventually divided between his two children, Herbert Fisk Johnson Jr. and Henrietta Johnson Louis.

Jim Spellman/Getty ImagesHerbert Fisk Johnson III.

Source: Business Insider

9. Like the S.C. Johnson family, the Lauder family has a fortune built on retail. They’re worth $US22.4 billion.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report

In 1947, Estée Lauder received her first major order, which was for $US800 of skincare products from Saks Fifth Avenue.

Ray Fisher/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

Today, the company has 30 brands of makeup, including MAC and Clinique, and reported $US13.8 billion in net sales in 2018.

Francis Dean/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider, The Estee Lauder Companies

The Lauders are active philanthropists — Leonard Lauder donated $US1 billion worth of art to the Met — and own a lot of real estate.

Jamie McCarthy/Getty ImagesAerin and Jane Lauder.

Source: Business Insider

8. The Duncan family has a net worth of $US24.8 billion.

Bob Levey/Getty ImagesDan L. Duncan’s daughter, Randa Williams, right, with her husband and mother-in-law.

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report

Dan L. Duncan founded Enterprise Products Partners, a natural-gas and crude-oil company, in 1968 with just $US10,000.

Red ivory/ShutterstockEnterprise not pictured.

Source: Business Insider

After he died in 2010, the company remained under family control, and his four children inherited a $US10 billion estate. The family fortune has since more than doubled.

Dan L. Duncan’s daughter, Randa Williams (left), with husband and mother-in-law.Randa Williams.

Source: Business Insider

7. The Pritzker family has a fortune of $US26.6 billion with roots in hospitality.

John Heller/Getty ImagesAnthony Pritzker with his wife and kids.

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report

A.N. Pritzker and his sons, Jay, Donald, and Robert, created the family’s wealth by founding the Hyatt Hotel chain and investing in holdings, such as Marmon Group.


Source: Business Insider

Eleven members of the family are billionaires — eight are on the Forbes 400 list.

Pool/Getty ImagesPenny Pritzker.

Source: Business Insider, The Billionaire Bonanza Report

They reportedly spent much of the 2000s arguing over trusts, ultimately dividing up the fortune.

Paul Natkin/Getty ImagesJ.B. Pritzker.

Source: Business Insider

6. The Cox family has a fortune worth $US37.2 billion thanks to Cox Enterprises.

AP PhotosJames Cox Kennedy.

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report

The company spans a number of industries — cable and broadband (Cox Communications), newspapers and radio stations (Cox Media Group), and automotive — and generates about $US20 billion in revenue.

Business Insider

Founder James Cox’s five grandchildren share the family fortune.

Krista Kennell/Getty ImagesKatharine Raynor, daughter of Anne Cox Chambers, with her husband, Billy Raynor.

Source: Business Insider

5. The Edward C. Johnson family is worth $US38.7 billion.

Brian Snyder/ReutersAbigail Johnson.

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report

Edward C. Johnson founded the world’s second-largest mutual-fund company, Fidelity, in 1946. It has been run by three Johnson generations since.

James Leynse/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

The family owns 49% of the company, which is helmed by Edward C. Johnson’s granddaughter, Abigail Johnson.

Boston Globe/Getty ImagesAbigail Johnson.

Source: Business Insider

4. The Cargill-MacMillan family’s wealth of $US38.8 billion dates back to 1865, when agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. was founded.

Jemal Countess/Getty ImagesMartha MacMillan.

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report, Business Insider

Today, 23 members of the Cargill-MacMillan family own 88% of the company, which generates $US108 billion in annual revenue.

Sylvain Gaboury/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

Of this clan, 14 are billionaires — nine are on the Forbes 400.

Sylvain Gaboury/Getty ImagesMartha MacMillan.

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report, Business Insider

3. The Mars family has a fortune of $US72 billion from its candy empire, Mars Inc., which invented M&Ms, Milky Ways, and Mars Bars.

Pool/Getty ImagesJacqueline Mars and her granddaughters.

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report

Six of the family members rank among the Forbes 400. Siblings Jacqueline and John Mars have the biggest share of the fortune, with $US24 billion each; the other four members have $US6 billion each.

Ron Sachs – Pool via Getty ImagesJacqueline Mars.

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report

They run the Mars Foundation, which donates to educational, environmental, cultural, and health-related causes.

Leigh Vogel/GettyJacqueline Mars.

Source: Business Insider

Jacqueline Mars’ son, Stephen Badger, is the chairman of Mars Inc., which brings in more than $US35 billion in annual revenue.

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderStephen Badger.

Source: Business Insider

2. Koch Industries has helped the Koch family build a fortune of $US107 billion.

Jamie McCarthy/Getty ImagesDavid and Julia Koch.

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report

Brothers Charles and the late David Koch expanded their father’s oil-refinery firm into the conglomerate, which generates roughly $US100 billion in revenue annually.

Source: Business Insider

David (who died in August) pledged to contribute more than $US1.2 billion to cancer research, hospitals, education, and cultural institutions through the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation.

AP Photo/FIleDavid Koch.

Source: Business Insider

Read more
: David Koch is dead. His and his brother Charles’ combined net worth is over $US100 billion, even after years of family feuds and massive lawsuits. Here’s how they made and spent their wealth.

Both brothers reportedly secretly funded some of the biggest summer movies of 2017, including “Wonder Woman.”

Source: Business Insider

1. The Walton family is the biggest family-wealth dynasty in the US, worth $US169.7 billion.

Rick Wilking/ReutersSiblings Jim, Alice, and Rob Walton.

Source: The Billionaire Bonanza Report

Their source of wealth comes from Walmart, which Sam and Bud Walton founded in 1962 before founding Sam’s Club in 1983.

Bob Chamberlin/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

Today, Walmart reports $US500 billion in sales, making it the largest retailer by revenue in the world.

Jeff Greenberg / Contributor / Getty Images

Source: Business Insider

The Walton family fortune is dispersed among seven family members, including cofounder Sam Walton’s three children, Rob, Jim, and Alice.

Rick T. Wilking/Getty ImagesRob, Alice, and Jim Walton.

Source: Business Insider

Alice Walton is the richest woman in the world, with a $US44.9 billion fortune.

Source: Business Insider, The Billionaire Bonanza Report

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