Foreign Policy Blogs

Philanthropy is Good for Your Children

The Guardian reports that many multibillionaires choose to give their money to charity for the sake of their children. They feel that to inherit such vast fortunes would ruin their children's lives in a Hilton-esque way. This feeling is behind William Barron Hilton's recent donations as well as Warren Buffet's. Buffet gave a great quote: “A very rich man might leave his children enough money to make it possible for them to do almost anything they want, but he would be a fool to leave them so much money that they ended up doing nothing at all.”

This touches on my last few posts on private giving. I’m forced to wonder if Chinese billionaires feel the same way – and I assume that they don't. Li Yuan suggests that for them the point of having a fortune is to provide it to your family. If our super rich are realizing that sustaining their wealth for many generations is not even in their children's best interests, why do they continue to raise such fortunes?



Kevin Dean

Kevin Dean is a graduate student pursuing a master's degree in international conflict management and humanitarian emergencies at Georgetown University. Before returning to school in Fall 2006, he spent six years working in the former Soviet Union - most of that time spent in Central Asia. He has managed a diverse range of international development programs for the US State Department and USAID. He has also consulted for several UN agencies and international NGOs, and is fluent in Russian. Kevin is originally from Des Moines, Iowa and studied Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Iowa.