Wealth Research – What’s that?

Published on 2015/06/09
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You could fill quite a bit of shelf space with books on how to get rich. Personally, I’ve read dozens of them. Generally speaking, they fall into either of two categories: The first type of writer will tell you to get rich by “thinking positive” whereas the second type will advise you on how to make a fortune in stocks.

Less well known than the existence of this popular genre is the fact that research on wealth creation has become a serious and established academic discipline in Germany over the past ten years. Academic sociology, whose focus used to be on marginalised groups of the lower social classes or on poverty research, has started to use scientific method to study ways to wealth and the underlying reasons.

What role does inheritance play? What role does entrepreneurship play? What role do stocks play? What role does real estate play? And what sort of personality traits do the affluent share?

A research project on wealth in Germany (“Vermögen in Deutschland”) polled 472 people. The individuals diligently analysed were not the super-rich but the next-door millionaires with an average wealth of 2.3 million euros. The interviews served as basis for doctoral theses and scientific essays published in academic periodicals and anthologies. Finding this a fascinating subject, I started reading up on the findings of US researchers concerning millionaires in the United States. Years ago, these experts polled 1000 American millionaires, and returned with amazing insights.

I also found answers in other places. Did you know that “happiness research” is a scientific field pursued at US and German universities? Here, researchers ponder the fascinating question whether or not money makes people happy (among other factors).

If you are not quite as avid a reader as I am but take an interest, you will find the results summarised on 250 pages in my latest book. Titled “Reich werden und bleiben” (meaning “How to become and stay rich”), it was published by FinanzBuch Verlag, Germany’s leading imprint for finance literature and became available in book stores and on Amazon just yesterday.

Time and again, I have watched people acquire a fortune only to lose it again. That is why I devoted the second part of the book to scientific theories about successful investments, outlining them in easy-to-follow language. As in other scientific discipline, these theories have their own jargon. One of the latest doctoral theses whose findings my book covers includes in its table of contents the English terms “equilibrium accounting,” “recency bias,” “overconfidence,” “emerging market premium,” “return reversal,” “portfolio rebalancing” and others like them, and this even though the thesis was written in German! An academic jargon of this sort is bound to discourage normal investors.

But if you have been reading my commentaries and book recommendations in GERMAN REAL ESTATE NEWS, you will know that I chose a clear and straightforward rhetoric even though I am a trained academic in my own right. I consider it of the essence to communicate scientific insights and research findings to a wider public.

The part of my book that I personally cherish most is its epilogue of 20 pages in which I show why our society actually needs the rich. I believe that “the rich,” which are a minority in our society, should join in the debate more than they do. The epilogue is a first attempt to legitimise wealth and to pinpoint the important societal function of “the rich.” I am very excited to learn what you will have to say about my new book, dear readers of GREN, and would be delighted it if you found the time to post a critical review on Amazon after reading it.

About the Author

Dr. Rainer Zitelmann is one of the leading experts for the strategic positioning and communications of companies.