Generational and Age Household Wealth Trends and Wealth Inequality

Line chart displaying the average real family wealth of three different generations during their young- to mid-adult years

SOURCES: Distributional Financial Accounts and Institute for Economic Equity 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 fourth quarter of 2021 was 33, and Gen Xers (born 1965-1980) had a median age of 33 in the fourth quarter of 2005. 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 displaying average real wealth at the midpoint age of 32-34 for millennials, GenZ and Boomer age group

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

Millennials had slightly lower family wealth, on average, than Gen Xers did at the same age (33) and were slightly below baby boomers at age 34, though their ages do not yet overlap in the data. In the fourth quarter of 2021, millennials’ average wealth was 4.2% below Gen Xers’ wealth at the same age (Q4:2005).

Line chart displaying changes in average real household wealty by various age groups from 1989 - 2021

SOURCES: Distributional Financial Accounts and Institute for Economic Equity 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, middle-age and older groups have much more wealth than same-age families did in the past, signaling a steeper life cycle of wealth on average. Despite this trend, younger families' average wealth has grown rapidly since the beginning of the pandemic.

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