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July 08, 2011

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First, I'm not sure why you're guessing lower than Merrill Lynch (2.7% v. 3.1%).

Second, phone surveys can be surprisingly accurate, as long as the researchers know what they're doing. However, in this case it would almost certainly be relying on people self-reporting their net worth, which means relying on lots of guesses and estimates. Most people probably don't know exactly what their net worth is.

I agree with Rich that the error hear might be self reporting. However if people equally over and under report their net worth it wouldn't be a big deal. I'd be curious if this is actually true though. I don't know if people would be more likely to over or under estimate their net worth.

The 2.7% of housholds being millionaires pretty much jibes with what Jean Chatzky said in her book "The Difference".

There are other data sources.

Here is one table from Census, I'm sure there are others.

http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2011/tables/11s0716.pdf

This particular table breaks out the classes as zero to 1.5 million, 1.5 - 2 million, etc. so doesn't break at exactly $1 million.

Rich I'm not guessing lower than Merrill. Do the math 3.1 million/ 118 million US households = 2.7%

Regarding your second point, that's why I like Merrill's numbers the best.

To get an actual networth can be tricky, most people overestimate real estate value, and don't take taxes into account for retirement accounts.

I think it would be really interesting to compare these numbers to data from earlier on in the twentieth century (in both hard data and numbers adjusted for inflation).

what is also interesting, is that average networth of an US houshold has gone down from 2007 to 2009 $595,000 to 481,000, while I guess a more accurate reading would be the median which dropped from 125,000 to 96000, based on these charts and tables its hard to figure out where the other percentiles are at. I'm trying now to see if I can figure out top 10% and 25% based on this data I pulled it from http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2011/201117/201117pap.pdf

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