This is a very good article on the struggles of raising rich kids and it begins like this: "America’s burgeoning money culture is producing a record number of heirs—but handing down values is harder than handing down wealth."
Recently, I phoned Andrew Solomon, heir to a substantial pharmaceutical fortune and author of the beautiful depression memoir The Noonday Demon, and asked if he’d discuss the psychological effects of inherited wealth. In the most gracious way, he declined. I pointed out that in his book, he was willing to talk about a depression so profound he attempted to contract HIV in order to have a reason to kill himself; yet he was too shy, on the phone, to talk about his inheritance. Why was that?
In Manhattan, one might argue we’ve already evolved from a borough of aspirational wealth to one of inherited wealth—if the average price of an apartment is $1.3 million, who besides investment bankers can afford one without parental assistance? “There are already examples of whole societies out there like this,” says Dalton Conley, chairman of the sociology department at NYU and author of the forthcoming The Elsewhere Society. “Like the Gulf states. I’ve compared Manhattan to the United Arab Emirates before. They have a nonnative working class that comes in and does all the labor, and the natives don’t have to do anything.”
“I just met this morning with a very sharp 48-year-old,” says Charles Collier, author of Wealth in Families and senior philanthropic adviser at Harvard University. “And he said to me, ‘I don’t want my children to be entitled, but I want to have a jet. I came from nothing. Haven’t I earned my jet?’” (Family advisers to the megarich say you’d be amazed how often this comes up, this question about private jets. Anxious business executives raise their hands in almost every seminar about it, seeking expiation.) And perhaps this fellow has earned his jet. But his children haven’t. The problem with money, as he doubtless discovered, is that it sets up its own paradox: Hard work may yield it, but growing up with it often discourages hard work.