The first paper, Patterns of Financial Attributes and Behaviors of Emerging Adults in the United States, focuses on emerging adults age 18-24. The study used 13 items from the latest National Financial Capability Study to classify the sample into four groups including the precarious, at-risk, striving, and stable. Findings provide new insight into the diversity of financial well-being of emerging adults and argues for tailored interventions.
The second paper, Student Loan Debt and Financial Insecurity Among Young Families, considers how student loan debt relates to financial insecurity among young families (age 25-45). Using the Survey of Consumer Finances, authors find that 24% of young families were insecure and student debt explains about half of the financial insecurity. Comparable data from Canada show much lower levels of financial insecurity and student debt and suggest a counterfactual: if the US achieved levels and amounts of student debt found in Canada, financial insecurity would be significantly reduced.
The third paper, The Financial Fragility of Current and Future Retirees: The Case of New Jersey, addresses financial well-being among current and future retirees with a focus on New Jersey. Using the longitudinal Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and accounting for death rates, the paper forecasts that 1.6 million adults will reach age 65 by 2030. Assuming no other changes, existing observed inequalities in financial well-being will compound. The study highlights that interventions are needed – specifically for saving – to reduce financial fragility.
The fourth paper, Assessing the Stability of Financial Well-Being in a Low- and Moderate-Income Population, uses longitudinal data from the Household Financial Survey that paired a survey with administrative tax records to understand financial well-being among low and moderate income (LMI) households across the life course. Results indicate financial well-being among LMI is considerably lower than financial well-being of the nation overall. Longitudinal analyses reveal large variation in the degree to which shocks and hardship predict declines in financial well-being.
In total, this symposium highlights unique dimensions of financial well-being across different periods of adulthood. Analyses using latent classification, a cross-national comparison, a forecasted population model, and a longitudinal design expose the heterogeneous nature of financial well-being among American families. Collectively, the papers generate novel policy implications and future research directions.