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Educational Household Wealth Trends and Wealth Inequality

This figure shows the average real wealth of families with a given educational achievement.

SOURCES: Distributional Financial Accounts and Center for Household Financial Stability’s calculations.

NOTE: Vertical bars indicate recessions.

This figure shows the average real wealth of families with a given educational achievement. On average, families headed by someone with at least a bachelor’s degree have greater wealth than similarly educated families did in the past. College-headed families in 2020 had 79% more wealth on average than similar families in 1989. The growth has not been as pronounced for less educated families; those headed by someone with less than a high school degree had less wealth, on average, than similar families in 1989 in most quarters.

Figure showing the average educational household wealth gaps from 1990 – 2020 compared to wealth per $ of a bachelor’s degree.

SOURCES: Distributional Financial Accounts and Center for Household Financial Stability’s calculations.

NOTE Vertical bars indicate recessions.

Given the fast growth in average wealth for college-headed families relative to families who are not college educated, real educational family wealth gaps have grown. From 1989 to 2020, the average ratio between families headed by someone with some college education (but no four-year degree) and families headed by a college graduate was 35 cents per $1. The average ratio between someone with a high school degree and a bachelor’s-level education was 25 cents per $1, and the average ratio between someone with less than a high school degree and a bachelor’s-level education was 14 cents per $1.

Bar chart showing the average wealth in Q2 of 2020 by educational level.

SOURCES: Distributional Financial Accounts and Center for Household Financial Stability’s calculations.

This bar chart shows the average wealth for families headed by someone with a four-year college degree, some college but no degree, at most a high school degree and less than a high school degree in the second quarter of 2020. The some college/college gap was 30 cents/$1, the high school/college gap was 23 cents/$1, and the no high school/college gap was 10 cents/$1.