Wealth Inequality Across Age and Class in 2019


Share  Tweet

In the below graphs, I use the new Survey of Consumer Finances data to show how wealth is distributed between and within every age group.

Older Families Have More Wealth Overall

The mean family headed by someone under the age of 35 has a net worth of $84,000. For families over the age of 50, it is more than $1 million.

Wealth is Very Unevenly Distributed Within Each Age Group

This overall picture obscures the substantial inequality that exists within each age group. At every age, the top 20 percent owns around 85 percent of the group’s wealth while the bottom half of families owns less than 5 percent.

Older Upper Class, Mixed Lower Class

When you put it all together, you see that the top 10 percent of the wealth distribution, which owns around three-fourths of all wealth, is overwhelmingly old. Less than 20 percent of the families in this decile come from families headed by someone younger than 50.

In the lower deciles, you see a pretty reliable pattern where the lower the decile is, the younger it is. But there are still a lot of older people in and around the bottom of the wealth distribution. Around 38 percent of the bottom half, which collectively owns 1.5 percent of household wealth, are over the age of 50.