A Closer Look

Inequalities in Us – It increases with age and it matters

The new study is by Alan J. Auerbach (Berkeley), Laurence J. Kotlikoff Skills Gap(Boston University) and Darryl Koehler (Fiscal analysis Center).  It departs from previous studies in three important ways: (1) it recognizes that the only meaningful way to compare income and wealth is to do it for people of approximately the same age, (2) it chooses people’s after-tax consumption (standard of living) as the best measure of wellbeing – not just at a point in time, but over the remainder of individuals’ entire lives and (3) it includes such government benefits as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in calculating people’s expected consumption…

It is well known that inequality increases with age, with the greatest inequality existing among the elderly. Other studies have concluded that the main reason for this is differences in saving behavior, not some mysterious Wall Street malfeasance imagined by Paul Krugman or Bernie Sanders. Those who save more when they are young accumulate more and have more when they retire. Those who save very little, will have a lot less in the retirement years.

This study finds that among 20 year olds, the wealth difference between the highest and lowest fifths is 7 to 1. But among 70 year olds the difference in wealth is more than 70 to 1. That change over the lifecycle of a group of cohorts is rather astonishing. Even so, after government redistribution takes its toll, the difference in remaining lifetime consumption falls all the way down to 8.6 to 1 for this age group.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Almost Everything You’ve Been Told About Inequality Is Wrong – Forbes

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