With the eyes of the world focused on the tax habits of the mega wealthy following the Panama tax haven leaks, a book by two of the world’s leading experts on the super rich is offering rare insights into their lives.
In their Handbook on Wealth and the Super Rich, Professor Iain Hay, a human geographer at Flinders University, and his University of Bristol colleague Professor Jon Beaverstock, are shining a light on areas including the lifestyles of the super rich, how they live, and how they can end up transforming the areas around them – often much to the chagrin of their local communities.
“The three main themes are wealth, self and society; living wealthy; and wealth and power,” says Professor Hay.
“Material on living wealthy for example looks at how the super wealthy live and where they live, including how they transform rural and urban places. It also looks at how they travel – is it jets, helicopters, limousines or something else.
“Wealth, self and society looks critically at how people have become so wealthy, the moral economy of it and how it’s justified. It also takes a critical look at philanthropy among billionaires.
“Wealth and power is about how different countries have been reshaping immigration policies to attract the rich and also looks at how individual private wealth is managed in offshore environments.
This also includes material on troubling tax havens, something truly relevant in light of the recent Panama papers incident.
“Other interesting chapters examine illicit super wealth, and the rise of the hip hop mogul.
“While it does have some fundamental themes the book also looks at a lot of other areas of the super rich’s live and influences.
“One of the things that might surprise many readers is that there are many more ‘super rich’ than they probably imagine and they often don’t fit a particular stereotype.
“It used to be mostly in the West, but it’s become very clear in the past few decades that global political economic circumstances have changed in ways that favour the accumulation of vast wealth.
“For example, in Russia, there are more billionaires today than ever would’ve been imagined even 20 years ago.
“There remains a commonly held perception that most of the super rich have worked hard or done something special to justify their extreme wealth, but that’s not necessarily the case.”