The 100-Year Family: Here Are Some Tips for Becoming One
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The 100-Year Family: Here Are Some Tips for Becoming One

Cayce Clifford for The New York Times Dennis Jaffe, a sociologist by training, has spent years trying to figure out the answer to a pressing question: what makes a hundred-year family? The question attempts to confront an adage that exists in many cultures and languages and is often attributed to Andrew Carnegie: “Shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations.” It refers to the fleeting nature of wealth and the all-too-common tendency for one generation to make it, another to waste it and a third to end up without it. The families Dr. Jaffe analyzed have avoided falling into the trap in which grandchildren dissipate what the grandparents built. They have made it past the third generation. Understanding how they did this isn’t easy. And the answer is, not surprisingly, nuanced. But Dr. Jaffe said his research kept bringing him back to one central point: 100-year families are better at communicating than other families. He has been sharing his research in a series of papers that will culminate next year in a book, “Borrowed From My Grandchildren: The Evolution of Stewardship in 100-Year Families” (Wiley). For the better part of four decades, Dr. Jaffe has been a leader in […]

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