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Extreme Wealth Inequality at All Ages is Tied to Retirement Struggles for Many Americans

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October 04, 2021

Extreme Wealth Inequality at All Ages is Tied to Retirement Struggles for Many Americans

Researchers with the National Institute on Retirement Security have found stark wealth inequality among members of the Baby Boom generation, which they defined as Americans aged 55-73.

The entire bottom half of Baby Boomers held only 2% of their generation’s wealth in 2019, threatening the retirement security of millions of Americans who are at or close to retirement age. Comparable levels of inequality were found among younger demographics, including “Gen X,” aged 39-54, and Millennials, aged 23-38.

When broken down by racial and ethnic groups, white Baby Boomers held 91% of the financial assets for their age group, with Blacks and Hispanics owning only a sliver of the total.

Financial asset ownership, including 401(k) plans, individual retirement accounts and other forms of investment, is especially important to retirement security because so many workers are expected to generate their own personal retirement savings as pensions become less common.

“Wealth inequality hurts Americans of all ages, and is particularly dangerous for older people,” said Joseph Peters, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “We need to expand Social Security and increase benefits, since it is clear that more and more Americans will need to rely on it for the majority of their retirement income.”

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