NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

AARP Study: Financial Strides Among Those 50 Or Older

May 23, 2001

Americans age 50 or older have notably higher incomes and are worth more than their peers in the same age group 20 years ago, according to AARP -- formerly known as the American Association for Retired Persons. Also, fewer today are living in poverty.

  • Median net worth for this age group increased 36 percent between 1983 and 1998 -- to $134,000, adjusted for inflation.
  • Total wealth of people 50 and older increased to $20 trillion in 1998 from $7.6 trillion 15 years earlier.
  • Family income grew by 17 percent during the past two decades and the poverty rate for retirees fell to an all-time low of less than 10 percent.

However, for about five million, or 15 percent, of people between ages 50 and 61 -- many of them low-skilled workers and many of them women -- homeownership fell during the past 20 years, and net worth rose to just $6,400, compared with median wealth of $360,000 for the richest in this age group, which the AARP calls preretirees.

Source: Jon E. Hilsenrath, "Retirees Becoming Wealthier, Healthier," Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2001; "Beyond 50: A Report to the Nation on Economic Security," May 23, 2001, AARP.

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