Your Chances Of Becoming Rich Are Better Than You Think

As college tuition, health care and other costs rise, the American Dream might seem like an unrealistic fantasy — but it may be more attainable than you think.

The number of Americans who will join the top 2% of earners has doubled in the past 35 years, according to new research featured in the book “Chasing the American Dream.” By age 60, more than 1 in 5 Americans will have experienced at least one year earning over $US250,000 in annual household income. 77% of Americans — mainly educated individuals, working married couples, and ageing workers — will have brought in at least $US100,000 of household income for at least one year.

These income spikes are usually the result of a particular event, like a year-end bonus, a spouse going back to work, or a promotion. But few of these “new rich” will stay that way for long. In fact, of those who do enter the top 2% of earners, fewer than 5% will remain in this high income bracket for five or more years. A downward turn, such as a medical emergency, divorce or job loss, is often enough to undercut any increase.

Interestingly, even a brief uptick in income often predicts significant changes in people’s behaviour. It may cause increased consumption and changes in political opinion — for example, many become more fiscally conservative, yet socially liberal. They believe income, rather than wealth, will enable them to maintain their higher social status.

RELATED: How Much Money Would You Need to Call Yourself Rich?

Research also suggests that these shifts in perspective don’t necessarily disappear after a year of heightened income. A brief taste of the American Dream motivates many to continue having faith even after their salaries fall slightly, and they become part of the “mass affluent” (households making more than $US75,000 annually).

A recent Gallup poll found that 60% of those with an annual household income above $US90,000 believe that Americans generally have “plenty of opportunity” to find success, compared to 48% of those earning less than $US48,000.

This story was originally published by LearnVest.

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