Affluence is mostly a matter of age and education in the US. The median net worth (2011) of young adults (less than 35 years) is $6,676; for 65 to 69 year-olds, it’s $194,226; for 75 and older: $155,714. Basically, people start accumulating wealth in their late 30s and then slowly deplete it after retirement. As with wealth, so with income: the top 1% for 25-29 year-olds starts at $140,010 a year; for 30-34 year-olds it’s $185,760; incrementally going up with each age group, ending with 55 and over: $331,590. And then, income plummets after retirement - and with income, wealth begins its slow drain. These days it takes longer to accumulate wealth. By age of household head, younger and middle-aged households are comparatively poorer than they were 30 years ago. Older households are 40% wealthier. This reflects more difficult economic conditions for younger cohorts, as well as the fact that peak earnings occur later in life than they used to (especially for professionals).
As for education, the difference in median wealth between individuals with two-year and four-year degrees is almost $100K; likewise the difference between the latter and holders of graduate or professional degrees. A bachelor’s degree also confers a significant income advantage – 45% higher than possession of an associate’s degree.