Once upon a time, you could go to a swell society affair and recognize all of the wealthy and glamorous in attendance.
But today, the ranks of the rich have grown, and the culture of wealth is changing. The number of people around the world with serious money is huge, with expansion driving by spreading capitalism and advances in technology.
What this means is that the norms of wealth are changing too. How will these lucky people spend their money? Is conspicuous consumption acceptable, or is the focus now on conspicuous philanthropy? The blonde trophy wife is getting elbowed aside for the alpha partner – professionally successful and able to take an equal role in philanthropy, chairing non-profit boards and even co-founding companies.
The wealthy are also more international and interconnected. They’re in touch by social media and international conferences as well as by phone and text. Billionaires from developing countries quickly pick up the habits and tastes and mores of the international community of the wealthy. Today there are more than 2100 billionaires worth more than $8.9 trillion. China has been turning out new ones at a rapid clip, faster than any other country.
Sadly, global poverty is also staggering. As of 2015, nearly 2 billion people around the world lived on less than $3.20 a day. In 2017, nearly 40 million Americans lived in poverty, defined as an income of less than $12,488 per year by the US Census Bureau. Income inequality is a serious issue and spawns a vast array of problems. Many of these problems are not readily apparent, either. In the wealthiest nations, financial crisis, climate change and the advent of populist politics have combined to make conspicuous consumption less acceptable. Today’s billionaire might be spotted in a hoodie and jeans driving a Prius.
Today’s fabulously wealthy prioritize social responsibility and work. The rich are busy, and their children have schedules equally packed with enriching activities. The rich are also extremely health conscious, and likely to spend money on exercise and locally-sourced foods. Diamonds are blood free and the new status car is a Tesla.
What this means is that the social hierarchy is less obvious. The wealthy don’t necessarily live according to the expectations their fortunes create. There is an increased emphasis on using great wealth to better society.
For more on how the nature of wealth and the super-rich are evolving, please see;
‘Who Are These People?’: the Identity Crisis of the Ultra-Rich | Wealth Management