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Generational and Age Household Wealth Trends and Wealth Inequality

Line chart showing Average Real Wealth by Generational Age for Boomer, GenX, and Millenials

SOURCES: Distributional Financial Accounts and Institute for Economic Equity’s calculations.

This figure shows average real family wealth of three different generations during their young- to mid-adult years. Values are centered on the median of the age range for the generation. For example, the median of the age range for millennials (born 1981-1996) in the third quarter of 2020 was 31, and Gen Xers (born 1965-1980) had a median age of 31 in 2004. While trailing Gen Xers for the beginning of their adult lives, millennials’ average family wealth has caught up over the past five years (as of the most recent data).

Bar chart showing Average Real Wealth by Age and Generation for the Q3 2020 for Millenial, GenX and Boomer

SOURCES: Distributional Financial Accounts and Institute for Economic Equity’s calculations.

Millennials had similar family wealth, on average, as Gen Xers did at the same age (31) and somewhat below boomers at age 34, though their ages do not yet overlap in the data. In the third quarter of 2020, millennials’ average wealth was 3.7% below Gen Xers’ wealth at the same age (Q3 2004).

Line Chart showing cumulative changes in average real wealth by age group by different age groups

SOURCES: Distributional Financial Accounts and Institute for Economic Equity’s calculations.

NOTE: Vertical bars indicate recessions.

The first two figures underscore a generational wealth gap. This figure highlights increasing inequality across the life cycle. Today, older groups have more wealth than older groups did in the past, signaling a steeper life cycle of wealth on average.