Money has always tended to flow from parents or grandparents to children and grandchildren, whether it’s as outright gifts, help with living expenses or paying for things like school. But the pace of that inter-generational transfer of wealth has picked up in recent years — and it could be threatening the retirement prospects of some baby boomers, according to a new report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
The report finds that the number of cash transfers going from older households to younger family members increased from 1998 to 2010. High-income households are more likely to provide support to their adult children, but middle- and low-income families are also providing cash to younger family members. Overall, from 2008 to 2010, households of adults aged 50 to 64 gave an average of $8,350 to younger family members, and households age 85 and older gave $4,787 to younger family members.
“For older households, cash transfers can reduce their retirement assets, raising concerns about retirement security, particularly for low-income groups,” EBRI research associate Sudipto Banerjee said in a statement.
In just 5 percent of families, wealth is passed from the younger generation to the older, and the amounts are far smaller. During the same period, households age 85 and older received an average of $359 from those in younger generations.
The EBRI numbers confirm a trend highlighted in other recent reports. A 2013 Pew study found that about half of adults ages 40 to 59 have provided some financial support to at least one grown child in the past year, with more than a quarter of them providing the primary support.
Obviously, the economic climate of recent years may be a big reason for the increased cash flowing from parents to their grown children. More than half of parents of millennials think that it is harder for today’s young adults to live within their means than it was for them, according to an April Bank of America survey.
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