Visualizing American Income Levels by Age Group
There are two commonly held beliefs around income and age:
1) Earning trajectory is largely determined by the time a person is 35-years-old
2) Income is positively correlated with age
How do these beliefs stand up to the actual income data? As it turns out, quite well.
Today’s data, from the IPUMS.org Current Population Survey, is a detailed look at income by age group.
The $50K Threshold
In the age of LinkedIn bragging it’s no surprise that two-thirds of people who are being paid the market rate believe they’re actually underpaid.
For people just starting out in the workforce, there can be a lot of pressure to earn a higher salary, but as the data shows, only a tiny percentage of workers under the age of 25 surpass a salary of $50K.
The majority of people in the work force make their greatest income strides between the ages of 30 and 35, with median income jumping by 26% during that short time-frame.
After the age of 35, the percentage of people earning $50K or more is surprisingly consistent until retirement age, hovering between 42% and 48%.
The $100K Threshold
Making $100K per year won’t put you in the top 1% – you’ll need to earn $300K to join that club – however, it’s still enough to live comfortably in most places in America.
Approximately 21 million people in the U.S. workforce earn over $100K. Here’s how they break down by age.
Interestingly, the percentage of Americans earning $100K or more jumps from 2% to 12%, and moves very little after that. Put another way, it’s rare for anyone in their 20s to earn over $100K, but many people who hit that threshold do so by the time they turn 40.
Much like those earning $50K or more, the percentage of $100K+ earners stays fairly consistent until retirement, peaking at age 66.
Individual salary situations will vary widely, of course, but it’s interesting to zoom out at the big picture of income in America.
Ranked: The Best Countries to Retire In
Which countries are the best equipped to support their aging population? This graphic show the best countries to retire in around the world.
Ranked: The Best Countries to Retire in Around the World
Our global population is getting older. By 2050, the OECD predicts that 30% of people worldwide will be aged 65 or over.
While some countries are relatively prepared to handle this increase in the elderly demographic, others are already feeling the squeeze and struggling with the challenges that come with a rapidly aging population.
Which countries are the best equipped to support their senior citizens? This graphic uses data from the 2022 Natixis Global Retirement Index to show the best countries to retire in around the world, based on several different factors that we’ll dig into below.
What Makes a Country Retirement-Friendly?
When people consider what makes a place an ideal retirement location, it’s natural to think about white sand beaches, hot climates, and endless sunny days. And, in truth, the right net worth opens up a world of opportunity of where to enjoy one’s golden years.
The Global Retirement Index (GRI) examines retirement from different, more quantitative perspective. The annual report looks at 44 different countries and ranks them based on their retirement security. The index considers 18 factors, which are grouped into four overarching categories:
- Health: Health spend per capita, life expectancy, and non-insured health spend.
- Quality of Life: Happiness levels, water and sanitation, air quality, other environmental factors, and biodiversity/habitat.
- Material Wellbeing: Income per capita, income equality, and employment levels.
- Finances in Retirement: Government debt, old-age dependency, interest rates, inflation, governance, tax pressure, and bank non-performing loans.
Using these 18 metrics, a score from 0.01 to 1 is determined for each country, which is then converted to a percentage. For a more detailed explanation of the report’s methodology, explore Appendix A (page 72) of the report.
The Top 25 Best Countries to Retire in
With an overall score of 81%, Norway comes in at number one as the most retirement-friendly country on the list.
|6||🇳🇿 New Zealand||75%||85%||81%||64%||71%|
|10||🇨🇿 Czech Republic||73%||76%||68%||84%||64%|
|17||🇰🇷 South Korea||70%||80%||59%||68%||73%|
|18||🇺🇸 United States||69%||85%||72%||56%||67%|
|19||🇬🇧 United Kingdom||69%||83%||82%||61%||55%|
Norway is at the top of this year’s ranking for several reasons. For starters, it achieved the highest score in the Health category, largely because of its high average life expectancy, which is 83 years old, or 9 years longer than the global average.
Norway also has the highest score of all the countries for Governance, a category gauged by assessing country corruption levels, political stability, and government effectiveness, and is in a three-way tie with Japan and Luxembourg in the Health category.
Second on the list is another European country, Switzerland, with an overall score of 80%. It’s the highest-ranked country for environmental factors, and it also has the highest overall score in the Finances in Retirement category.
A Regional Breakdown
While European countries dominate the top 10 in the ranking, how does Europe rank as a region as a whole? Before diving in, it’s important to note that the study actually breaks up Europe into two sections: Eastern Europe (grouped with Central Asia) and Western Europe.
|3||Eastern Europe and Central Asia||49%|
And from a regional perspective, North America comes in first place despite the fact no countries in the region made it into the top 10. North America only has two countries included in the ranking: Canada (#15) and the U.S. (#18), which both rank relatively high.
In contrast, Western and Eastern Europe have more countries to account for, which ultimately lowers their regional average.
The Future of Retirement
As longevity rises and the retirement aged population continues to increase worldwide, many countries are opting to change their pension policies in an effort to encourage people to stay in the workforce longer.
For instance, in 2018, people in the UK could claim their State Pension once they turned 65. By 2028, this age requirement will be raised to 67.
However, government intervention may not be necessary, as many people around the world are already staying in the workforce beyond the traditional retirement age (perhaps more out of necessity than choice).
How Do Americans Spend Their Money, By Generation?
This interactive graphic shows a breakdown of how average Americans spend their money, and how expenses vary across generations.
How Americans Spend Their Money, By Generation
In 2021, the average American spent just over $60,000 a year. But where does all their money go? Unsurprisingly, spending habits vary wildly depending on age.
This graphic by Preethi Lodha uses data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to show how average Americans spend their money, and how annual expenses vary across generations.
A Generational Breakdown of Overall Spending
Overall in 2021, Gen X (anyone born from 1965 to 1980) spent the most money of any U.S. generation, with an average annual expenditure of $83,357.
|Generation||Birth Year Range||Average Annual Expenditure (2021)|
|Silent||1945 or earlier||$44,683|
|Boomers||1946 to 1964||$62,203|
|Generation X||1965 to 1980||$83,357|
|Millennials||1981 to 1996||$69,061|
|Generation Z||1997 or later||$41,636|
Gen X has been nicknamed the “sandwich generation” because many members of this age group are financially supporting both their aging parents as well as children of their own.
The second biggest spenders are Millennials with an average annual expenditure of $69,061. Just like Gen X, this generation’s top three spending categories are housing, healthcare, and personal insurance.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, members of Generation Z are the lowest spenders with an average of $41,636. per year. Their spending habits are expected to ramp up, especially considering that in 2022 the oldest Gen Zers are just 25 and still early in their careers.
Similarities Across Generations
While spending habits vary depending on the age group, there are some categories that remain fairly consistent across the board.
One of the most consistent spending categories is housing—it’s by the far the biggest expense for all age groups, accounting for more than 30% of total annual spending for every generation.
|Generation||Average Spend on Housing (2021)||% of Total Spend|
|Silent (1945 or earlier)||$16,656||37.3%|
|Boomers (1946 to 1964)||$21,273||34.2%|
|Generation X (1965 to 1980)||$26,385||31.7%|
|Millennials (1981 to 1996)||$24,052||34.8%|
|Generation Z (1997 or later)||$15,449||37.1%|
Another spending category that’s surprisingly consistent across every generation is entertainment. All generations spent more than 4% of their total expenditures on entertainment, but none dedicated more than 5.6%.
|Generation||Average Spend on Entertainment (2021)||% of Total Spend|
|Silent (1945 or earlier)||$2,027||4.5%|
|Boomers (1946 to 1964)||$3,476||5.6%|
|Generation X (1965 to 1980)||$4,694||5.6%|
|Millennials (1981 to 1996)||$3,457||5.0%|
|Generation Z (1997 or later)||$1,693||4.1%|
Gen Zers spent the least on entertainment, which could boil down to the types of entertainment this generation typically enjoys. For instance, a study found that 51% of respondents aged 13-19 watch videos on Instagram on a weekly basis, while only 15% watch cable TV.
Differences Across Generations
One category that varies the most between generations and relative needs is spending on healthcare.
As the table below shows, the Silent Generation spent an average of $7,053 on healthcare, or 15.8% of their total average spend. Comparatively, Gen Z only spent $1,354 on average, or 3.3% of their total average spend.
|Generation||Average Spend on Healthcare (2021)||% of Total Spend|
|Silent (1945 or earlier)||$7,053||15.8%|
|Boomers (1946 to 1964)||$6,594||10.6%|
|Generation X (1965 to 1980)||$5,550||6.7%|
|Millennials (1981 to 1996)||$4,026||5.8%|
|Generation Z (1997 or later)||$1,354||3.3%|
However, while the younger generations typically spend less on healthcare, they’re also less likely to be insured—so those who do get sick could be left with a hefty bill.
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