Chart: Average family net worth by age

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting chart out that looks at average family net worth by age of head of the family. Obviously, you’re at your poorest when you’re young and you reach your climax just before you hit retirement. After the golden age of 65, your net worth dips.

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  1. The use of “average” family wealth without understanding how wealth distribution is skewed in the population is misleading. The wealthiest 10% have 75% of the wealth, the next 40% (the middle class) have 24% of the wealth and the poorer half of the population share just 1% of the wealth.

    Thus if you are in the poorer half of the population, you age is not going to matter very much. More importantly, there are trends in the distribution of wealth that make it foolish to look at age. The poor lost 70% of their share of wealth over the last so years. If you were 45 20 years ago and are 65 now the chart suggests a significant. If you were in the upper class or the upper middle class it would be true but it is not so for those in the lower class.

    For a better wealth distribution chart see

    • In colloquial language, an average is the sum of a list of numbers divided by the number of numbers in the list. In mathematics and statistics, this would be called the arithmetic mean. However, the word average may also refer to the median, mode, or other central or typical value.

      You are correct without context the average of anything is just a number. You have to remember that the 30 year old that has a $98,000 net worth means 50% of the 30 year old households have less than $98,000 and 50% have more than $98,000.
      What I have noticed over the last 50 years is that most people do not do much better than their parents. Most today are maintaining the illusion of a middle class standard of living with high levels of debt.

      CEOs in 1975 made 40-50 times what the average worker made, today it is 250-350 times what the average worker makes. Real wages have been flat for the bottom 50% over the last 40 years.

      Until we have minimum wage raised to $12 per hour, indexed to inflation, things will not improve much for millions of workers.

      Record high profits for the corporations, record low wages, adjusted for inflation, for most workers.

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