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The Balance Sheets of Younger Americans: Is the American Dream at Risk? Event Details

Noon - 7 p.m. | Thursday, May 8, 2014 - Includes dinner reception
8 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. | Friday, May 9, 2014


Policymakers and others are rightly concerned about the balance sheets of younger Americans, especially those in their 20s and 30s. Recent research by the Center for Household Financial Stability (the Center) at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis suggests that, holding a host of key determinants of income and wealth constant, each generation born during the first half of the 20th century earned more and was wealthier than the one before, whereas real incomes and wealth of generations born during the second half of the century have stagnated at levels below those of Americans born in the late 1930s and 40s. Similar research conducted by the Urban Institute finds that Generations X and Y have accumulated less wealth than their parents did at a similar age over a quarter-century ago. And further research by the Center shows that younger, less-educated and non-white families have yet to fully recover the wealth lost during the Great Recession—with age being the strongest predictor of which families lost and recovered wealth after the recession.

Combined with daunting economic challenges facing younger Americans—including intensifying global competition for good-paying jobs, continuing rapid rates of technological change, the rising cost of higher education, delayed family formation, and demographic shifts that place greater economic burdens on younger generations—it appears that the American dream may well be threatened for a growing number of younger Americans.

To better understand the balance-sheet challenges of these Americans, and consider new ideas and promising policy directions to meet these challenges, the Center is pleased to offer this symposium. New and cutting-edge research from leading academics nationwide, from within and beyond the Federal Reserve System, will be presented on a wide range of topics, including:

  • Economic mobility
  • Student loans
  • The state of younger Americans’ balance sheets
  • Homeownership
  • Savings and balance-sheet portfolio allocation
  • Financial decision-making
  • Child development accounts and parental expectations

Our keynote speaker will be Neil Howe, renowned expert on generations and social change. The full conference agenda may be found here.

A nominal cost of $100 per participant ($20 for students) is required for attendance. 

Register early, as previous Center events have sold out and space is limited. Registration is required by Friday, May 2, and includes breakfast, two lunches and a dinner reception.

Presented by the Center for Household Financial Stability and the Research division at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, along with the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis.

Event Details


Registration is now closed.

Conference Location:

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza
Broadway and Locust St.
St. Louis, Mo.  63102 (map it)


Bryan Noeth