This report finds that three-quarters of Gen Xers—Americans born between 1965 and 1980—have higher family incomes than their parents did at the same ages, but only a third have higher wealth. In part, this is because the typical Gen Xer has six times more debt than their parents did. Gen Xers were hit particularly hard by the Great Recession, which brought falling housing values and rising unemployment rates. As a result, they lost nearly half their wealth between 2007 and 2010.
The Pew Charitable Trusts analyzed individual family data across generations, including income, wealth, debt, educational attainment, race, demographic characteristics, and earner status to learn what separates the most financially stable Gen Xers from those who’ve fallen behind their parents. Gen Xers who are unable to translate their higher incomes into wealth holdings may remain more financially fragile and disadvantaged than the previous generation as they move closer to retirement.