Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



This paper compares wealth holdings across two cohorts of the Health and Retirement Study: the early Baby Boomers surveyed in 2004, and individuals in the same age group in 1992. We find that levels and patterns of total net worth have changed relatively little over time, though Boomers will rely more on housing equity than their predecessors. Most importantly, planners in both cohorts approached retirement with much higher wealth levels and display higher financial literacy than non-planners. Instrumental variable estimates show that planning behavior can explain the differences in savings and why some people near retirement with very little or no wealth.


Wealth holdings, housing wealth, lack of planning, literacy, cohorts

JEL Code

D91, E21

Working Paper Number


Copyright/Permission Statement

Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone, and not those of any institution with which the authors are affiliated. ©2007 Lusardi and Mitchell. All Rights Reserved. ©2007 Pension Research Council. All Rights Reserved.


The research reported herein was undertaken pursuant to a grant from the US Social Security Administration (SSA) to the Michigan Retirement Research Center (MRRC); research support was also provided by the Pension Research Council at the Wharton School. The authors thank Honggao Cao, John Leahy, Bill Rodgers, David Weir, and participants to the Carnegie-Rochester Conference on Public Policy in April 2006 for suggestions and comments. Jason Beeler provided excellent research assistance.

Included in

Economics Commons



Date Posted: 17 December 2019