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8 myths about the super rich debunked

Predrag Vuckovic | iStock / 360 | Getty Images

Most of the stereotypes associated with the world's ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) population are just plain wrong, says research house Wealth X Institute.

A UHNW individual is someone with a net worth of at least $30 million according to Wealth X. In 2013 there were 199,235 UHNW individuals—0.003 percent of the world's population; together they accounted for the equivalent of 38 percent of global gross domestic product at $27.7 trillion.

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Below, Wealth X debunks the myths often associated with this privileged segment of society.

1. They inherited all their money

Only 19 percent of UHNW individuals fully inherited their wealth. Some 65 percent are self-made, while 16 percent inherited only part of their wealth.

2. They're all investment bankers

While the finance, banking and investment industry is the largest category from which UHNW individuals derived their wealth, only 19 percent are primarily engaged in that industry.

3. The super rich all have an Ivy League education

A total of 7,000 of the world's UHNW individuals—just 3.5 percent—possess an Ivy League education (a degree from the top eight schools in the U.S.) while over 27,000—13.6 percent—don't have a college degree at all.

4. 'Technopreneurs' are all hoodie-wearing college dropouts in their 20s

Thirty-year-old Harvard dropout and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is probably to thank for this stereotype. But contrary to popular opinion, the average age for a UHNW working in the technology industry is 54, and many of them are highly educated.

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5. Wealthy are immune to economic cycles

The UHNW population declined by 20 percent between 2008 and 2009, and its wealth fell 22 percent.

6. The Chinese super rich's wealth is outpacing everyone else

Decades of exponential growth in the world's No. 2 economy has created the perception of Chinese billionaires taking over the world, but the number of UHNW in China and their collective wealth declined last year. The U.S. still has three times as many billionaires as China.

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7. The wealthy don't give back

The average UHNW philanthropist donates $25 million over his or her lifetime. Billionaire philanthropists donate $100 million. There are other kinds of giving back too including impact investing, microfinancing and simply job creation.

8. The super rich all own private jets and superyachts

Only a small portion of UHNW individuals (20 percent) can afford a 30-meter-plus yacht or a private plane. Still, chartering remains popular. As for air travel, many super rich still travel on commercial airlines, although they fly business or first class.

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