Wealth Gap Between Young, Old Largest on Record

November 7, 2011

The wealth gap between younger and older generations has grown to its largest on record: Americans 65 or older are now 47 times more wealthy than households headed by someone under the age of 35, according to new Census data. 

The wealth gap is more than double what it was in 2005. The economic downturn has hit younger adults particularly hard, as they struggle to find jobs and face high housing costs and owning homes that are now worth less than what they bought them for. 

Meanwhile, older Americans tend to hold more net worth since they more likely have paid off their mortgages and have built up savings, according to the findings. 

“For young adults, the main asset is their home,” the Associated Press article notes in reporting on the Census data. “Their housing wealth dropped 31 percent from 1984, the result of increased debt and falling home values. In contrast, Americans 65 or older were more likely to have bought homes long before the housing boom and thus saw a 57 percent gain in housing wealth even after the bust.”

Source: “Census Data Show Wealth of Older Americans is 47 Times That of Young Adults, Widest Gap Ever,” Associated Press (Nov. 7, 2011)