How Financially Fit Are American Retirees?

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  • In their article Better than Ever? The Wealth of Retired Households, the authors examined the balance sheets of households headed by retirees in 2016 with those of households headed by retirees in 2001 and 1989.
  • To gauge how retired households past and present have fared, Chien and Sun looked at the composition of their assets—both financial (e.g., investments) and nonfinancial (e.g., housing)—as well as their liabilities. Overall, the authors concluded that both “the average and median inflation-adjusted wealth of retirees has been increasing over time.” And they dove deeper into the average and median values for additional insights.
  • They noted that median total assets among households headed by retirees grew “substantially”. And since the median retiree had little to no debt during this time, median net worth also increased substantially […] Chien and Sun pointed out that the increase in median total assets and net worth was large, but still smaller than the rise in average assets and net worth. “The slower increase in the median relative to the average indicates that wealth inequality worsened,” they wrote.

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