Are you ahead or behind?
Comparing myself to others always helps motivate me to make improvements in my life. That’s why I’m so fascinated by data like this. After all, I’m a data guy. Data helps drive my life.
This data shows family net worth in America. This is not the net worth of individuals. The age referred to is that of the head of the household. If you live in a different country, as I do, you may still find the data useful.
Let’s discuss the difference between average and median net worth
Average net worth is calculated by adding up the net worth of everyone and then dividing by the number of people. For example, suppose you have 3 people with a net worth of $85,000, $100,000, and $1,000,000. The total of $1,185,000 is divided by 3 to give an average net worth of $395,000.
What you’ll notice from this is that one person with a huge net worth can distort the figures. If you’re the one with a net worth of $100,000 you might not feel great if you compare yourself to the average.
The median net worth is simply the middle figure when the net worth of everyone is placed in order from lowest to highest. In the above example, it’s $100,000. If you’re the one with $100,000 you’ll probably feel good about it, as half the people have less than you and half have more.
In America, the average net worth is $748,000, yet the median net worth is only $121,700.
The average is high due to a small number of households that have a net worth of multi-millions and multi-billions. These are outliers.
If you lined up all the households in America from poorest to richest, the one in the middle would have a net worth of $121,700.
I hope that all makes sense to you.
Now, on to the figures. Let’s see how we compare to both the average and median.
This data is taken from the Federal Reserve’s Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2016 to 2019.
The figures below are for 2019. Figures for 2016 are in brackets.
Age under 35
Median net worth: $13,900 (up 19% from $11,700 in 2016)
Average net worth: $76,300 (down 6% from $81,000 in 2016)
Median net worth: $91,300 ($63,600, +44%)
Average net worth: $436,200 ($307,000, +42%)
Median net worth: $168,600 ($132,100, +28%)
Average net worth: $833,200 ($773,700, +8%)
Median net worth: $212,500 ($199,200, +7%)
Average net worth: $1,175,900 ($1,241,600, -5%)
Median net worth: $266,400 ($237,600, +12%)
Average net worth: $1,217,700 ($1,133,700, +7%)
Median net worth: $254,800 ($281,600, -10%)
Average net worth: $977,600 ($1,134,800, -14%)
The main point to notice is that we start our lives with little and grow our wealth over the years. As we hit 75 our wealth starts to fall.
That all makes intuitive sense. We build careers, get promoted, earn more, buy assets, invest, etc. That helps increase our wealth.
Interestingly, between 2016 and 2019, the group that did the best was the 35–44 age group. Their median wealth increased by 44% and their average wealth increased by 42%. That’s a pretty spectacular rise. What happened to the theory that the boomers had all the wealth. Sure, they had more overall but their wealth didn’t increase as much. In fact, the average wealth of the 55–64 age group dropped by 5%.
If you enjoyed reading this article, you will love these: