"Blast from the past - Best of Eddie" - This one is originally from December 2010. If there's an old post from Eddie you'd like to see up again shoot me a message.
Sorry for the delay this morning, guys. I'm back in the States and writing this from a CC's coffee shop in New Orleans. It's good to be back in the ol' U.S. of A. Anyway, this is a conversation I've been wanting to have on the site for awhile. Do the rich work harder than the poor in America, or are they just lucky? This Journal article from late September lays out the case.
According to Virgin's Richard Branson, luck has more to do with it than hard work. I can't really say for sure, as I've done fairly well in life and I've worked very hard (at times), but I'm also the luckiest bastard I know. If past is truly prologue (and I believe it is) then being rescued as an infant from a London orphanage by an American family had more to do with my success in life than anything that happened after that. And no one, least of all me, could ever claim that wasn't anything but a giant stroke of unbelievable luck.
A recent study conducted by Nobel-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman indicates otherwise though. It shows that the rich actually do work harder than the poor, and by a wide margin.
His study found that people who earn less than $20,000 a year, for instance, spent more than a third of their time in passive leisure, like kicking back and watching TV. By contrast, those earning more than $100,000 a year (more affluent than wealthy), spent less than a fifth of their time in passive leisure.
I don't think there's any doubt on WSO that the majority of wealthy people are workaholics, despite the Paris Hiltons of the world who receive all the press. Another study by Steven Landsburg indicates that the uber-wealthy consider their work to be their recreation, and therefore eschew what most of us consider leisurely activities in favor of more time at the office.
For many of today's rich there is no such thing as "leisure" in the classic sense -- work is their play. They don't sit around the polo field or lounge around the country club all day like Old Money. The new rich are perpetual-motion machines -- young, driven and always working on the next project.
Building wealth to them is a creative process, and the closest thing they have to fun. They're uncomfortable hanging around the club or sitting on the beach (Several people I interviewed for my book said they've never sat through an entire movie, because they get bored.) Their version of "fun" or "leisure" revolves around making money and creating businesses, activities defined as "work" in most economic studies.
While I often admire the gargantuan work ethic of these guys, I can't say I envy them. In a lot of ways, the poor know a lot more about work/life balance than the super rich. And I love my time off.
So I have two questions for you guys, and I'd like your input.
First, does the average rich person work harder than the average poor person? And second, how much of becoming wealthy is hard work, and how much is just dumb luck?