They lost 45-percent of their wealth.
It was clear Gen Xers experienced hard times. They were just starting to hit their prime working years, were just starting to buy homes… They’re in their 30s and 40s today.
So, we became interested in how Gen Xers as a group compared to, specifically, their own parents. We found that three-fourths of Gen Xers have more household income than their parents did at the same age.
But only one-third had more wealth — which includes property, savings, etc.
That’s largely because Gen Xers, as a group, have a great deal more debt than their parents did. The median has six times more debt.
We wanted to understand why. What was going on with their wealth?
When we dug deeper, we found that college graduates in particular have less wealth than their parents. That’s related to their student debt.
In 2011, four in 10 Gen Xers with a college degree still had student loan debt. The typical amount was $25,000.
Quite a drag on their wealth.
This has implications for the future. If Gen Xers are still paying their own student loan debt, it’s unclear if they can save enough money for their children’s educations.
And if Gen Xers don’t have the wealth they need to retire, their future economic security is at risk. They can’t invest in themselves or their children – and that jeopardizes future economic mobility.
Some of our forthcoming work is looking at savings programs, trying to answer the questions: What can be done to improve emergency savings? How can we encourage greater savings?
I also believe debt, and its consequences, should be addressed to younger generations. Understanding debt is an important step forward.
It’s unclear what will happen to Millennials. They are still young enough to change the course.