Older Americans made dramatic gains in median net worth over the past 25 years, a new Pew analysis of Census data says, while households headed by younger adults lost ground.

In 2009 the typical household headed by an adult 65 or older had $170,494 in net worth, up 42 percent from 1984. Households headed by an adult under 35, by contrast, had a median net worth of just $3,662,  down 68 percent.

People accumulate assets as they age, so some gap between the old and young is inevitable, the Pew report says, and the collapse of the housing market, the recession and the jobless recovery contributed to widening the gap in recent years. However, the report say, the trend is decades-long and not just the result of the sour economy.

Contributing to the widening gap is the fact that young people delaying entering the job market and getting married–two steps generally associated with wealth accumulation. They also are more likely to be minorities and more likely to be single parents, both of which contribute to lower household income.

wealth gap

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