Using data from the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances, AARP revealed the following:
- Median net worth increased from $36,000 in 1989 to more than $107,000 in 2001.
- Counting home equity, net worth exploded from $140,000 to nearly $400,000 during that same period.
- Median net worth varied by individual and demographic factors.
- The median net worth for white households grew from nearly $57,000 to $147,000, while the total for nonwhites increased from $3,000 in 1989 to just under $25,000 in 2001.
- Married couples and boomers with college degrees saw their net worth expand substantially.
- Older boomers (born from 1946 to 1955) tripled their median net worth from $45,000 to $146,000. Younger boomers (born from 1956 to 1964) jumped from $29,000 to $86,000, but these boomers are doing better than older boomers at comparable ages.
- Homeownership is the primary source of net worth for Americans.
- Home owners had $100,000 in net worth in 1989, compared to just more than $2,000 for non-home owners. By 2001, home owners had $175,000 in net worth, while non-home owners had only $7,000.
A second AARP study, "The Inequality of Financial Wealth Among Boomers," noted that boomer wealth is more concentrated in the highest income brackets now than it was in the late 1980s.
The top 1% hold a greater share of net worth than the bottom 80% and almost as much as the bottom 90%. However, the percentage with zero or negative net worth has declined steadily.
The two studies confirm that boomers have more money today than a decade earlier, although people in the upper income ranges and in certain demograpic groups control most of the wealth.
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