Happy Days are Here Again! … Nevermind.

AARPSuppose one family, aged 50 to 64, has $1 in financial assets and another has $1 million.

It is accurate to say the mean financial assets of these families is $500,001 but does this mirror reality? Of course not.

This is essentially what the AARP did Thursday when it touted a report by the Survey of Consumer Finances, 1989-2013, which found that the mean financial assets for families of all races, aged 50 to 64 is  $351,328.  The AARP says the graph is “worth a thousand words.”


Older Americans suffer from the same level of wealth inequality as other age groups.  The AARP itself reported in June 2015 that the  top 10 percent of households in their fifties hold 71 percent of the wealth of households in this age group.  That means that some older Americans have a lot of assets and most have few or no assets. In reality, most older Americans are struggling to survive financially. The Social Security Administration says that Social Security is the “major source of income for most of the elderly.”

Possibly the AARP was trying to make the point that African-Americans and Hispanics have fewer assets than white Americans. This is certainly true but the graph below, in all likelihood , overstates the financial assets held by the vast majority of African-Americans and Hispanics.

One can only hope that the AARP is not attempting to overstate the wealth of older Americans to direct attention away from the fact that so many are burdened by unconscionable health care costs while the AARP makes record profits as the leading purveyor of medi-gap insurance plans in the country.


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