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A New Look at the Wealth Adequacy of Older U.S. Households



We examine the current wealth adequacy of older U.S. households using the 1998-2006 waves of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). We find that the median older U.S. household is reasonably well situated, with a ratio of comprehensive net wealth to present value poverty- line wealth of about 3.9 in 2006. About 18 percent of households, however, have less wealth than would be needed to generate 150 percent of poverty-line income over their expected future lifetimes. We see similar patterns of wealth adequacy when we examine ratios of annualized comprehensive wealth to pre-retirement earnings. Comparing the leading edge of the baby boomers in 2006 to households of the same age in 1998, we find that the baby boomers show slightly less wealth, in real terms, than their elders did, but still have appear to have adequate resources at the median. Moreover, we find a rising age profile of annualized wealth, even within households over time and after controlling for other factors, suggesting that older households are not spending their wealth as quickly as their survival probabilities are falling.

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  • David Love & Paul A. Smith & Lucy C. McNair, 2008. "A New Look at the Wealth Adequacy of Older U.S. Households," Department of Economics Working Papers 2008-12, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  • Handle: RePEc:wil:wileco:2008-12

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Christian E. Weller, 2009. "Did Retirees Save Enough to Compensate for the Increase in Individual Risk Exposure?," Working Papers wp206, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    2. Elsa Fornero & Annamaria Lusardi & Chiara Monticone, 2009. "Adequacy of Saving for Old Age in Europe," CeRP Working Papers 87, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
    3. Juha Honkkila & Ilja Kristian Kavonius, 2016. "Deriving household indebtedness indicators by linking micro and macro balance sheet data," IFC Bulletins chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Combining micro and macro data for financial stability analysis, volume 41 Bank for International Settlements.
    4. Marchand, J. & Smeeding, T., 2016. "Poverty and Aging," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, Elsevier.
      • Marchand, Joseph & Smeeding, Timothy, 2016. "Poverty and Aging," Working Papers 2016-11, University of Alberta, Department of Economics, revised 20 Nov 2016.
    5. Barry Bosworth & Rosanna Smart, 2009. "The Wealth of Older Americans and the Sub-Prime Debacle The Wealth of Older Americans and the Sub-Prime Debacle," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2009-21, Center for Retirement Research, revised Nov 2009.
    6. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 2011. "Were They Prepared for Retirement? Financial Status at Advanced Ages in the HRS and AHEAD Cohorts," NBER Chapters,in: Investigations in the Economics of Aging, pages 21-69 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. David Love & Lucie Schmidt, 2015. "Comprehensive Wealth of Immigrants and Natives," Working Papers wp328, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    8. Michela Coppola, 2011. "Einkommens- und Vermögenssituation der Babyboomer," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 80(4), pages 31-50.

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