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Americans Age 75+ Are Most Likely to Own Stocks

Fed numbers suggest they benefit most from the Wall Street boom

Stock Wealth Survey

Hiroshi Watanabe/Getty Images

The survey also found that 75-and-older households also saw the biggest growth in personal wealth over the last several years.

Since the brutal economic downturn of the late 2000s, the stock market has been booming, with the S&P 500 Index nearly quadrupling in value from below 700 in March 2009 to above 2,600. 

Many Americans haven’t benefited from that growth, in part because fewer of them are investors. The Federal Reserve System’s latest Survey of Consumer Finances shows that among most age groups, the share of direct stock ownership declined significantly between 2007 and 2016. 

But one age group held steady. Some 19.6 percent of households headed by Americans 75 and older directly own stocks, nearly the same as the 20.2 percent who held investments in 2007. The 75-plus Americans now have the highest percentage of stock ownership of any age group. 

Other age groups saw declines. The 55-to-64 group took the sharpest drop, with stock ownership falling from 21.3 percent to 15.5 percent.

When indirect ownership through mutual funds and retirement plans is included, the share of 75-and-older households owning equities jumped from 40 percent in 2007 to 49 percent in 2016, according to an analysis of Fed data by Bloomberg Businessweek. Every other age group saw a decline.

According to the Fed survey, 75-and-older households also saw the biggest growth in personal wealth over the last several years. Their median net worth grew from $200,800 in 2013 to $264,800 last year, a jump of 32 percent. Those under age 35 saw just 4 percent growth in wealth. The 35-to-44-year-olds saw wealth increase by 24 percent, while 45-to-54-year-olds (14 percent) and 55-to-64-year-olds (9 percent) saw less growth. Those in the 65-to-74 group saw their worth decline by 6 percent. 

Many older Americans invest in stocks despite the risks because safer investments, such as bonds and bank accounts, are paying such low returns, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.