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Wealth Inequality Among Older Americans

  • James P. Smith


Using the AHEAD study, this article examines the wealth distribution among American househods with a member at least 70 years old. Household wealth is quite unevenly distributed among older American households. Those households in the top 10th percentile of the wealth distribution have 2,500 times as much wealth as those at the lowest 10th percent. This sharp wealth disparity relative to income dispersion is the dominant reason why older minority households have accumulated so little wealth compared to White households. Wealth varies by a factor of seven to one when both spouses are in poor health compared to when they say that they are in excellent health. Finally, AHEAD data on bequest intentions suggest a bifurcated bequest motive. Most older households plan to bequeath a modest financial inheritance, but about one-quarter expect to leave inheritances worth $100,000 or more.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Labor and Demography with number 0403003.

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Length: 8 pages
Date of creation: 02 Mar 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:0403003
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 8. The Journals of Gerontology, Volume 52B, May 1997, pp. 74-81
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