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A standard belief is that each generation will do better than the previous, that kids will have better financial lives than their parents. It hasn’t been completely true because there are always some people who encounter too much bad luck. Almost 90% of the children born in America during World War II eventually earned more than their parents. Even during the supposedly golden era of the Baby Boom, the percentage dropped, eventually halting at about 55% in the mid-60s through the mid-70s. Since then, the percentage continued to drop, now close to about half. About 50% of children in America are earning more than their parents. The other half aren’t. The prominent change in the economy and in financing has been the growth of personal debt and displays of increased standards of living, even if they are paid for by borrowing. The consequence has been to heighten the benefit of being born in the right place to the right family thereby lessening the need for financing lifestyles or business opportunities. As wealth and income inequality increase, there is less for the next generation except for those for whom it accumulates and concentrates. The trend will probably continue until policies are revised in favor of those who aren’t in the upper income and wealth groups.

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2 thoughts on “Fewer Children Surpassing Parents

  1. Yep. Fewer children are surpassing the net worth of their parents … because fewer children are making good financial choices, preferring debt-fueled consumerism and bling over growing their wealth.

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  2. I’ve done the multiplication of all the inflation rates for years since 1980 – the last time I had a good estimate of what my Dad made – and it seems like I’m about even with where my parents were when I was in high school. Same age, too. The situations are similar and different: they had 3 kids, Dad was a first-level manager in a STEM field, 1100 sq ft suburban home. I have 2 kids, work in a STEM field but not a manager, 2000 sq ft suburban home. Their last kid was in HS, my first is in 6th grade. Cost of living in Rochester and Milwaukee suburbs probably quite similar. I had a career change, but in my case that accelerated salary growth compared to remaining a mediocre Boeing engineer.

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