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Remember how your mother told you money won’t buy you happiness?

Well, guess what: It won’t make you stop worrying, either.

At least that’s the finding of a new survey released by the giant Boston-based mutual fund company Fidelity Investments and the accounting and professional services company Ernst & Young LLP.

“The Making of a Millionaire: A National Survey on Wealth,” was designed to help the companies learn more about millionaires.

It found that nearly two-thirds of the $1 million and up crowd worry about losing their money.

“Although affluent Americans generally feel confident about the future,” the survey of more than 1,800 wealthy people showed, “they can’t shake the fear of suffering a serious financial setback.”

The anxiety is especially acute among “up and comers,” or people under 40 who have assets of at least $500,000. About 70 percent are afraid they’ll lose their money.

The biggest sufferers, though, are the “working wealthy.” That is, people with at least $1 million in their employee retirement plans. Three out of four fear financial loss.

Why do the rich worry so?

The falling stock market, personal debt and losing their jobs, to name a few reasons.

College-educated workers, as a group, have been hit hardest by the recent rash of layoffs, says David A. Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor’s Corp. in New York.

The unemployment rate for college graduates in May rose to 2.1 percent, up from 1.6 percent a year ago, Wyss says. (The jobless rate for high-school dropouts, by contrast, has been falling.)

So, you might ask, why should we care if rich folks worry?

One reason: Their numbers are growing.

The number of people who ranked as millionaires grew to a record 2.5 million last year, up from 1.8 million in 1997, according to Merrill Lynch/Gemini Consulting’s World Wealth Report 2001.

The more millionaires there are, the more spending power they have — and the greater their impact on the economy. Remember: consumer spending is two-thirds of the economy. And rich people buy a lot of stuff.

They also pay a lot of taxes, says Leonard P. Lardaro, an economist at the University of Rhode Island.

Lardaro, for one, is sympathetic.

“We always assumed that millionaires had it made and that they don’t have to worry about anything,” he said. In fact, maybe they worry even more, “because they have more to lose.”

So perhaps we working stiffs can take comfort: millionaires may not always feel like a million bucks.

Then again, what wouldn’t we give to find out?

Copyright © 2001 Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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