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Downturn Slams Gen-Xers; Boomers, Not So Much

Housing prices are the real culprit
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2011 3:46 PM CST

(Newser) – The recession is hurting most of us, but Gen X has taken the brunt of it—thanks to housing prices that fell off a cliff 5 years ago and are still tumbling. Consider the 30-year-old Gen-Xer who bought a house in 2006 for $250,000. That value has now dropped by a third, hurting any chance of a comfortable retirement. Compare that to a Baby Boomer of the same age who bought a house in 1991 for $100,000: Sure, it's lost value in the downturn, but its median selling price is still $170,000.

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That difference lies at the heart of a grave financial disparity between Gen-Xers and boomers, NPR reports. Older Americans are usually richer, but the 47:1 wealth gap in 2009 just dwarfs the 10:1 metric reported in 1984. "People generally accumulate wealth as they age, so it is not unusual to find large age-based gaps on this measure," says a Pew study. "However, the current gap is unprecedented." (Read more housing crisis stories.)

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