For most economists, historians, social scientists, it is tough to avoid research bias

Fictitious Billionaires

by Elaine Schwartz    •    May 8, 2011    •    727 Views

Having amassed her fortune as CEO of an electronics empire and through her inheritance, The Office’s Jolene “Jo” Bennett is ranked #11 on this year’s Forbes Fictional 15. You might enjoy this (fictitious) Forbes interview of Ms. Bennett.

Dominated by men, the list includes Carlisle Cullen (#2 ), who made his fortune primarily through a blood reagent manufacturer and Bruce Wayne (#3), affluent because of his shares of Wayne Enterprises.  The Simpsons’ C. Montgomery Burns (#12), Gossip Girls’ Chuck Bass (#13) and “investor” Gordon Gekko (#14) are also on the list. 

The Economic Lesson

With Jo Bennett the only woman in the Fictional 15, Walmart’s Christy Walton & Family (#4) and Alice Walton (#8) were the two women in the top 15 for Forbes richest in America. (4 Waltons were in the top 10.)

Electronics, energy, security, and investing were among the industries that provided the fortunes of the Fictional 15. For Forbes Richest in America, Microsoft’s Bill Gates (#1) and investor Warren Buffett (#2) topped the list.

An Economic Question: The conclusions from the following studies could be contradictory. Your opinion?

Saying that education is crucial for income mobility, a 2010 study from the OECD concludes that U.S. intergenerational mobility is relatively low. In other words, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters remain close to the same rung on a social mobility ladder.

By contrast, this 2007 report from the U.S. Treasury indicates that there is considerable income mobility in the U.S. Describing a hotel with luxurious rooms and shabby rooms, they say that, “…those in small rooms have an opportunity to move to a better one, and that the luxurious rooms are not always occupied by the same people. The frequency with which people move between rooms is a crucial aspect of the trend in income inequality in the United States.”


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