By Emily Price
May 24, 2018

People born in the 1980s are in danger of becoming the “lost generation” in terms of accumulating wealth, according to a study that examined how Americans today are doing compared to previous generations at their age.

The “Demographics of Wealth” study, conducted by economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, found that individuals born in the 1980s have 34% less wealth than what trends would predict for their age group. Those born in the 1970s are 18% behind where they should be, while those born in the 1960s are 11% behind.

According to the study, the issue comes down to “housing and debt.” While people born in the ’60s and ’70s initially had a good deal of mortgage debt and lower net worths thanks to housing pricing, they’re doing much better now that the housing market has recovered. In contrast, ’80s babies ended up with a great deal of student and credit card debt, making it so they couldn’t purchase homes or stocks, things that have seen a rise in value over the past few years and would have resulted in an income boost.

All that said, 1980s babies still aren’t the most indebted generation — that honor goes to those born in the 1970s. The difference is, according to the study, that the older generation is in debt for things like homes and other assets, while the younger generation is in debt for something a little different: their college education.

But the news isn’t all bad.

“Two reasons for optimism are that the 1980s cohort has many years to get back on track and it is the most educated — hence, also potentially the highest-earning — group ever,” the study notes.

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