Wealth Gap Between Young And Old Americans Is Highest Ever

11/07/2011 02:33 pm ET | Updated Jan 07, 2012

We all know it's a tough time to be a teen or young adult in America right now. The youth unemployment rate is at its highest since World War II, and the combination of rising college tuition costs and a poor job market have left many recent grads with thousands in debt and no way to pay them off.

The younger generation is more affected by the poor economy than any other age group. The Associated Press reported today that the wealth gap between older and younger Americans has stretched to the widest ever recorded -- and it's now more than double what it was in 2005. According to census data released this morning, the average American household headed by a person age 65 or older has a net worth 47 times greater than a household headed by someone under 35. Essentially, older Americans are 47 times richer than younger Americans.

And what's more, a whopping 37 percent of younger-age households have a net worth of zero or less, meaning that over a third of young households have more debt than income. Not only are young people burdened by student loan debt and housing debt, but they are also delaying careers and marriage, often due to financial considerations. According to a Generation Opportunity poll, 77 percent of young people ages 18-29 either have or will delay a major life change or purchase due to economic factors.

The same poll found that 69 percent of young people feel that current government leadership does not reflect the interests of young people. It's a situation that has led thousands of teens and 20-somethings to protest at Occupy Wall Street. And this weekend in the UK, dozens of young people took to the streets in a 330-mile march to London to protest youth unemployment.

So how do you feel about all this? Are you worried about the economic situation and the increasing wealth gap? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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