The Economic and Financial Status of Older Americans: Trends and Prospects

William Emmons, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Bryan Noeth, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Older families generally fared better than young and middle-aged families during the financial crisis and during the two preceding decades. The Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances reveals that older-old families (headed by someone 70 or over) fared slightly better than younger-old families (headed by someone between 62 and 69). After controlling for a host of factors related to income and wealth, we find that cohorts born in the late 1930s and 1940s have experienced higher income and wealth trajectories over their life courses than earlier- or later-born cohorts. While it is too soon to know how cohorts born in recent decades will fare over their lifetimes, it appears that the median Baby Boomer and median member of Generation X are on track for lower income and wealth in older age than those born in the 1930s and 1940s, holding constant many factors other than when a person was born.

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Presented in Session 195: Economic Well-Being in Later Life