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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's billionaires are more likely than their U.S. counterparts to have made their own money rather than inherited it, a study has found, challenging popular perceptions of greater social mobility in America.
A survey by French bank Societe Generale and Forbes of super-rich people in 12 countries, many of whom are billionaires, found 80 percent of the British sample entirely "self-made," as opposed to inherited wealth or a mix of both.
Among the U.S. rich, 68 percent were entirely self-made, the report said. Just a 10th of the British multimillionaires have wealth that was all inherited, compared with 18 percent of American billionaires, the report said.
Only Russians beat the British for the dominance of new money with all those in the survey having made their own millions in the two decades since the dismantling of the Soviet Union's command economy.
The super rich in China, India and Brazil also appear to be more bound to old money than British elites, at least for now.
Two-thirds of Brazilians and 65 percent of Chinese and Indians have wealth categorized as entirely self-made, as opposed to inherited or a blend of sources, the survey found.
But the report also noted that Brazil, Russia, China and India are seeing the most growth in the super rich population.
"Today, both China and Russia have more than 100 billionaires in their ranks, putting them second and third behind the U.S.," it said.
In Germany and France only about a third of the samples had wealth classed as purely self-made.
The rich of Britain and the United States were older than their Chinese or Indian counterparts, however. The average age of the sample in Britain and the United States was 65 and 66 respectively, compared to 60 in India, 50 in China and just 49 in Russia.
Reporting by Chris Vellacott, editing by Paul Casciato