Boomers vs. Gen X: Who’s the Wealthiest of Them All?

This tweet has been making the rounds:

One of my readers emailed this to me and asked if it was for real. I promised to look into it.

The short answer is yes, it’s true. It’s based on the Fed’s Survey of Consumer Finances, which is a pretty reliable set of data, and the numbers are accurate. Boomers at age 35 held a much larger share of national wealth than Gen Xers did when they turned 35 a decade ago.

So what’s going on? Is there really such a huge gap? I think probably not, and it has to do with the huge increase in income inequality over the past few decades. Compared to 1989, a much larger share of national wealth is tied up in the wealth of the very rich these days, and Gen X isn’t yet old enough to have a big share of that. It’s mostly boomers—either by inheritance or by simple accumulation—who control that wealth. If you look at median wealth instead, the difference between boomers and Xers would be much smaller.

That’s my guess, anyway, but I can’t find the data to support it. It’s probably out there somewhere, though. Can anyone help us out here?

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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