Older Americans Have 47 Times More Wealth Than the Young

Gap has widened in past 25 years: Pew
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2011 1:31 PM CST
Older Americans Have 47 Times More Wealth Than the Young
The housing crisis has contributed to a growing wealth gap between the old and the young.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

A new analysis by the Pew Research Center shows a widening age gap when it comes to wealth: In 2009, a typical household headed by an adult aged 65 or older had 47 times more net wealth than its counterpart headed by someone younger than 35. That’s a median of $170,494 versus $3,662. In 1984, that gap was $120,457 versus $11,521—a 10-to-one ratio—but between 1984 and 2009, wealth was rising for households headed by older adults while falling for households headed by younger adults.

Though an age gap is to be expected, since wealth typically increases as people age, this gap is the largest in the 25 years the government has collected these data. Why? The housing bubble is a big reason—as home equity has increased for many older households that bought before the bubble, it has decreased for many younger ones that bought during its height. Rising college loan debt is another factor, as is employment: Younger people have been entering the labor market later in life, while older people have simultaneously continued to work until later in life. Click for the full report, or check out another reason now is a terrible time to be a young man. (More income gap stories.)

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