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One of the major economic problems facing U.S. households is that too few people have bought the kinds of products you sell.

Jason Brown, a government economist, warned about the effects of consumers’ failure to buy enough annuities and long-term care insurance policies in a presentation he gave at a recent meeting of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC).

“The median elderly household receives no income from private pensions or annuities,” Brown said at the meeting, according to a written version of the FLEC presentation posted on the web. “Only about 12% of the elderly population has private long-term care insurance.”

(Related: IRI Finds 15% Drop in Q3 Annuity Sales)

In theory, many older people could cope with their lack of annuities, long-term care insurance and other retirement saving and insurance vehicles by taking out reverse mortgages to tap their home equity.

But, in the real world, only about 50,000 U.S. homeowners take out new reverse mortgages each year, Brown said.

The result, he said, is that older, single Americans are doing poorly.

“The typical single, disabled household has virtually no wealth,” he said. “The vulnerable older population is mostly women. Along many metrics, women make up over two-thirds of the vulnerable older population.”

Median non-housing wealth for all U.S. households with at least one member over the age of 65 was about $87,000 for in 2016. That same year, the typical single, disabled U.S. resident over age 65 had just $1,255, Brown said.

Brown said policymakers have to figure out how to persuade workers to begin preparing for retirement when they are young.

“Early adulthood decisions have long-term repercussions for wealth building,” he said.

FLEC, an arm of the U.S. Treasury Department, runs a federal financial education website at http://www.mymoney.gov.  

Brown is an economic analyst at the Treasury Department’s Office of Economic Policy.


Resources

Information about FLEC is available here.

A copy of Brown’s presentation slidedeck is available here.  

—Read Your Kids Could Pay the Price for Poor LTC Planning on ThinkAdvisor.


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