Gap Between the Haves and Older Have Nots Likely to Worsen

October 16, 2019
Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

A new Harvard study shows the inequality of wealth and opportunity that has become a stubborn feature of American life is being entrenched in the oldest segment of society.

Recent income gains — from investments, property appreciation, and retirement income — have gone disproportionately to the highest earners in the 65-and-older age group, while the number of older households burdened by housing costs has reached an all-time high, according to the report by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

The study, released Wednesday, comes as the number and share of older households in the United States are increasing to record levels, bringing the growing inequality to the fore as millions of seniors grapple with housing affordability and financial security in retirement.

“We have experienced a good economy for the past few years, but we’re seeing a growing number of older residents facing cost burdens. So clearly the economy isn’t working for everyone,” said Jennifer Molinsky, a senior research associate for Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and lead author of the Center’s recent report.

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