Wealth cannot be Passed Beyond Three Generations

2011-08-12 05:30:21

 Many people believe in the saying that "wealth cannot be passed beyond three generations". You may wonder where did the Chinese get such a funny thinking, the prosperous reigns in the Qing Dynasty just illustrated this saying, though in fact the strength and power of the Qing Dynasty lasted for six generations.
 It's quite common to hear of wealth not passing down to younger generations because of wastrel habits. The conventional saying is sometimes more harshly where the first generation of heirs succeeded in bankrupting the family.
 "Wealth cannot be passed beyond three generations" is also closely associated with the picture of first generation "created" the wealth, second generation "maintained" the wealth, and third generation "lose" the wealth. Alas, as anecdotal evidence in Chinese history, it has happened more often than not. The first generation built their fortunes from scratch, enduring hardships, taking risks and incurring valuable lessons. Many would attempt, but few would succeed, and those who did succeed gained knowledge and skills that cannot be taught in a classroom. They also developed intuition, sharpness in dealing with people, an uncanny sense of reading people, and also learned from past failures when to fold their cards, live to fight another day. And they also developed network and relationships. The second generation might or might not have assisted in the process, depending on their edge. But usually, they learned something from their parents' experience, sometimes acting as employees, their parents being mentors. They might have grown up when the family was in more humble circumstances when the fortune was still being made. But as they were not at the forefront of the enterprise, they lacked the wisdom of their pioneering parents. The third generation usually grew up in affluence. Wealth protected them from a lot of things, and as a result, most did not learn to deal with life properly, especially with failures. Nobody born to affluence would set out to be a wastrel. It was ultimately a matter of upbringing. Sadly, many first generation and second generation would be too caught up with work to pay proper attention to upbringing. They didn't want their children to have to slog the way they did, so they provided for many comforts, and send their kids to get the best education in school or from private tutors - but they forgot that these schools/tutors could never teach their kids the kind of learning they themselves had used to create the wealth.
 Some of the rulers and statesmen deemed most successful in history of China turned out to be terrible parents.
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张力平,IT行业资深分析师。Zhang Liping, aka Sevencastles,a senior analyst in IT industry and the owner of Seven Castles,'a Shanghai blog featuring news and views of great interest'.