Elder assets – Net worth up 36%

A new report finds Americans 50 years and older are healthier financially than their counterparts 20 years ago, The Wall Street Journal reported May 23.

The median net worth of retirees and people getting ready to retire grew 36 percent to $134,000, adjusted for inflation, between 1983 and 1998, says the report by AARP.

Net worth is the amount by which assets, such as homes or stock, exceed debts and other liabilities.

Total wealth of Americans 50 and older grew to $20 trillion in 1998 from $7.6 trillion in 1983, the report says.

Inflation-adjusted family income grew 17 percent in the past 20 years, while the poverty rate for retirees fell to a record low of less than 10 percent.

The report — which also said minorities made big gains but started from a much lower base — represents good news about older Americans’ finances as a surge of Baby Boomers become retirees and more Americans live into their 80s and 90s, the Journal said.

But it noted that the AARP report also finds roughly 5 million people, or 15 percent of those between 50 and 61 – including many low-skilled workers and many women – are heading into retirement unprepared.

For those Americans, homeownership fell during the past 20 years and net worth rose to just $6,400, compared with median wealth of $360,000 for the wealthiest in that age group of pre-retirees, the Journal said.

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