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Friday 20 September 2019

Over-55s hold most wealth - with young mired in debt

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Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Older people own a huge proportion of the wealth in this country, new research indicates.

Some 60pc of the wealth in the State is held by those over the age of 55.

This is despite the fact that this age group makes up just 24pc of the population, according to new research from Goodbody Stockbrokers.

Property is the top source of wealth. But those between the ages of 35 and 44 are heavily indebted, and are less likely to be have built up a store of wealth.

This age group is still experiencing the after-effects of the Celtic Tiger borrowing binge.

"Over-65s are the wealthiest age cohort, while those approaching middle age are the least wealthy and most indebted - but most likely to benefit from inheritance in the coming decades," the report states.

In a survey done as part of the research, most respondents identified property as one of their top sources of wealth.

More than 80pc said that they intended to split everything equally between all children, while just 10pc said they would split according to need.

The holding of financial assets, such as savings and pensions, are low in this country compared with the rest of the EU.

There is a high level of wealth among older people, making Ireland among the wealthiest countries in Europe, after Luxembourg.

The population is younger than the rest of Europe, but it is now beginning to age much faster, Goodbody reports.

"Although the population as a whole is young, the distribution of household wealth is skewed towards older cohorts," it states.

However, the number of older people is going to shoot up, prompting the Goodbody analysts to conclude the country will experience a pensioner boom, with a 60pc rise in the numbers aged over 65 by 2030.

The value of housing assets per adult has been calculated in at €163,000, which is more than double the European average of €70,000. But the average debt per household, at €56,000, means this country is still the most indebted in Europe.

Debts for those in the 35 to 44 age group are much higher, averaging €135,000 compared to a European average of €54,000.

"Clearly, older households have benefited most from the remarkable growth of the Irish economy since the mid-1990s, while the generation in the 35 to 44 age cohort were hit hardest by the property crash a decade ago," Goodbody states.

Irish Independent

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