Is the younger generation coming up, or is the older generation going down?
According to the 2015 Ipsos Affluent Survey USA, whatever is causing it, there are now more Gen Xers among the affluent class than there are baby boomers.
The survey defines “affluents” as adults living in households with at least $100,000 in annual household income—something that’s true for the top 23 percent of American households.
Affluents have a median income of $145,000 and a mean income of $227,000.
Thirty-seven percent of affluents, according to the survey, are Gen Xers (ages 34–50), while boomers, ages 51–69 make up 33 percent of the group. A quarter are millennials, ages 18–33, and five percent are seniors, 70 years old and older.
Affluents are certainly doing well for themselves.
They flock to urban areas (44 percent of them live in urban areas, compared with just 30 percent of the general population) and those in Los Angeles, in contrast to their affluent brethren in northern California, are particularly interested in automobiles, luxury, fashion, and entertainment.
While older Gen Xers’ interests are closer to those of boomers, those of younger Gen Xers more closely mimic millennials—with the tipping point around age 40. The under-40s lean toward social media, music streaming, and entertainment trends, while the over-40s are more likely to buy CDs or downloads.
There may be more Gen Xers among affluents these days, but that doesn’t mean that as a group they’re sitting pretty.
In fact, Gen Xers as a group are dreading retirement, not only fearing that they’ll run out of money but that they’ll never have enough money to retire in the first place.
They also seem to have problems even being able to wrap their heads around the notion of planning for retirement.
That could be because Gen Xers are carrying so much debt. A recent Pew study found that Gen Xers are saddled with more debt than any other segment of the economy, at a median of $104,000