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November 11, 2021

Old people flourishing, young people suffering since the downturn

Back near the end of the summer, we asked a loaded question: which age group got the worst of the recession?

To oversimplify a global crisis, we spun a feature from The Atlantic to compare the economic trials the downturn levied on GenYers, GenXers and Baby Boomers.

The exercise may have treaded water – indeed, just as each group had its own rock-solid argument, MSN commenters appeared to argue the merits of all three demographics equally – though maybe we just needed more time.

Maybe we needed new data from the Pew Research Center to prove what the recession has done to the financial outlook for young and old people alike.

According to a recent study of the net worths of Americans plus-65 and under-35, young people are suffering since the recession while older Yanks are flourishing.

*Bing: Where does Canada’s unemployment rate rank against other nations?

By the survey, households headed by those 65 or older had a median net worth of $170,494 in 2009, up 42 per cent from 1984 after adjusting for inflation. By contrast, households headed by those under 35 had a median net worth of just $3,662, a drop of 68 per cent over the same period.

“If these patterns continue, it starts to call into question one of the most basic tenets of the American dream, which is that each generation does better than the one that came before it,” Paul Taylor, a Pew Research exec and study co-author, said.

Certainly, in Canada, it’s tough to prove once and for all who’s been hit worst by the downturn.

Retirement, perhaps the chief measure of economic stability in your Golden Years, has been pushed back for all Canadians. From 1976 to 2000, according to the Conference Board of Canada, the average retirement age dipped from 65 to 61.5-years-old. Since, the trend has reversed, rising in 2010 up to 62 and counting.

But then, what’s worse – having to work for a few more years or not being able to work at all? Indeed, as the general perception of Baby Boomers in the recession continues to be “They’re boxing all the young people out of jobs,” Canada’s youth unemployment rate remains sky-high. At 17.2 per cent this summer, the jobless rate is nearly 10 per cent higher than the national figure.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...