The More Americans Make, the Higher ‘Rich’ Becomes, Gallup Says

How much money does a rich person make? The answer depends on your salary, according to a Gallup poll.

Americans as a whole say an annual income of $150,000 makes a person “rich,” the survey found. While people making $50,000 or more a year in household income view $200,000 as the threshold, those making less than $50,000 - the median U.S. household income - say a $100,000 salary qualifies as rich, the survey found.

“Rich is a relative term,” Dennis Jacobe, chief economist at Gallup in Washington, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “People’s perception of who is rich depends on where they sit economically and in society.”

The rich threshold is higher than in 2003, the last time Gallup did the poll. Then, $120,000 was the median amount Americans said they would need to consider themselves rich, the group said in a statement on its Web site Dec. 8.

Men have a higher wealth threshold than women, as do college graduates versus non-graduates, and younger Americans compared with older Americans, the survey found. City-dwellers have higher expectations than those from rural areas.

While men put the wealthy level at $150,000, women said it’s $100,000. College graduates and city dwellers view $200,000 as the threshold, while non-graduates and country dwellers would feel rich with half that income. People 49 or younger target $160,000, while those 50 or over would say they’re rich with annual incomes of $100,000.

Need a Million

Fifteen percent of those surveyed said they would need to make $1 million or more a year to feel wealthy, while 32 percent chose a figure between $150,000 and $1 million, the survey showed. Twenty-three percent said $100,000 to $150,000 would be enough.

Less than $100,000 a year would be enough to make 30 percent of those surveyed feel rich. That group includes 18 percent of Americans who said they would consider themselves wealthy if they made less than $60,000 a year, Gallup said.

In response to another question, one-half of Americans polled said they would need $1 million or more in savings of cash, stocks, real estate and other investments to consider themselves rich. Thirty-six percent put the figure at $100,000 to $1 million, while 13 percent said less than $100,000 in savings would allow them to feel rich.

The poll was conducted by telephone Nov. 28-Dec. 1 among 1,012 adults living in the U.S. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Willis in Washington at bwillis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net

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