UK adults in their 30s half as wealthy as those in their 40s

Added 30th September 2016

UK adults born in the 1980s have half the wealth as those born in the 1970s had at around the same age, according to a new study.

UK adults in their 30s half as wealthy as those in their 40s

Latest figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) show that adults in their early 30s have average net household wealth of £27,000 per adult – including housing, financial and private pension wealth.

This is about half the median wealth that those born in their 40s had at around the same age (£53,000).

The results show that those born in the early 1980s were the first post-war generation not to enjoy higher incomes in early adulthood than those born in the previous decade.

“This is partly the result of the overall stagnation of working-age incomes, but it also reflects the fact that the great recession [2007-2008] hit the pay and employment of young adults the hardest,” read the IFS research.

As a result, this age bracket will find it harder than previous generations to build up wealth in housing and pensions as they age, added the report.


Outside of the public sector, those born since 1970 have much less access to generous Defined Benefit (DB) pensions than previous generations did.

In their early 30s, less than 10% of private-sector employees born in the early 1980s were active members of a DB scheme, compared to more than 15% of those born in the 1970s and nearly 40% of those born in the 1960s.

However, the recent introduction of ‘auto-enrolment’ means that younger generations have higher overall pension membership than their predecessors did albeit at much lower levels of generosity.  

Home ownership

Home ownership among those in their early 30s is around 40%, compared to 55% born between 1940-70.

Meanwhile, adults in their late 20s, spend nearly 30% of their net income on housing costs - largely rents - on average, compared to 15% for homeowners - largely mortgage interest.

At the same age, renters and homeowners born in the 1960s both spent around 20% of their income on housing costs on average.

Andrew Hood, an author of the report and a research economist at IFS, said: “By the time they hit their early 30s, those born in the early 1980s had about half as much wealth as those born in the 1970s did at the same age.

“Sharp falls in home-ownership rates and in access to generous company pension schemes, alongside historically low interest rates, will make it much harder for today’s young adults to build up wealth in future than it was for previous generations.”

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About Author

Monira Matin

Senior Reporter

Monira joined International Adviser in March 2016 from Informa Global Markets where she worked as a eurobond reporter for over two years, covering fixed income markets. She has previously held a number of editorial positions covering politics, insurance and technology. Monira has a degree in Journalism and Economics from City University.



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