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Comparing Boomers' and Their Elders' Wealth at Midlife

How prepared financially for retirement is the baby boom generation compared to the previous generation? This AARP Public Policy Institute Data Digest by John Gist compares boomers in 2001 with the same age group (37-55) in 1983 in terms of income, net worth, net worth less home equity, and financial assets. All four measures (reported in 2002 dollars) show boomers doing better at midlife than their predecessors, with boomers accumulating about six times as much in financial assets, twice as much in nonhousing net worth, and 20% more in total net worth. Somewhat surprisingly, median family income ($56,000 vs. $50,000) reflects the smallest improvement for boomers over their elders. Taken together, these figures suggest that the earlier generation relied much more heavily on home equity as a source of wealth than do boomers. Certain boomer subgroups (nonwhites and single women) were actually worse off in 2001 in terms of net worth than their counterparts in 1983, but better off in terms of net worth other than home equity, again suggesting differences between the two groups in terms of the share of housing in their asset portfolios. (6 pages)

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