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St. Louis Fed Research Symposium to Examine Threats to Young Americans' Prosperity


ST. LOUIS – There is growing concern among researchers and policymakers about the balance sheets and economic prospects 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 found that each generation born in the first half of the 20th century accumulated more wealth than the previous generation, but people born in the second half of the century have enjoyed no such escalation of wealth over time.

That trend, combined with daunting economic challenges facing younger Americans—global competition for good-paying jobs, rapid technological change and soaring college costs, to name a few—indicate that the American dream may be threatened for a growing number of younger Americans.

Research at a May 8-9 symposium, “The Balance Sheets of Younger Americans: Is the American Dream at Risk?” will examine these issues and new ideas and policy directions to meet the challenges.

The agenda is available at The event, which will take place at the St. Louis Fed, is open to the media, and parts of it will be available via phone line.  Media members who would like to attend or listen in by phone should contact Laura Girresch at 314-444-6166 or

At the symposium, researchers will present new information on a 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 savings accounts

The keynote speaker will be Neil Howe, renowned expert on generations and social change.

“It’s clear that Americans in their 20s and 30s face unprecedented challenges in realizing the American dream,” said Ray Boshara, director of the center. “We hope that by examining their balance sheets—what they save, own and owe—and not just their employment or income, we can generate some fresh insights and promising ideas to help them move up the economic ladder and help the nation’s economy move forward.”

The symposium is sponsored by the center and the Research department at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, along with the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis. The event is part of the ongoing mission of the St. Louis Fed’s center to conduct research and convene practitioners and policymakers around promising ideas to rebuild the balance sheets of struggling American families.