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Generation X Households Segment Summary December 2013

Source: 2012–13 MacroMonitor

Generation X Households heads are born between 1963 and 1976. The youngest turned age 37 and the oldest age 50 in 2013. MacroMonitor 2012–13 data report that 22% of Gen X household heads are between the ages of 34 and 39; 78% are between the ages of 40 and 49. Of Generation X Households, 11% are single-headed households with no dependent children; 14% are married with no dependent children. In one-third of Gen X households with dependent children, the oldest child is age 6 or younger. Overall, Generation X households are significantly more likely to have children than all US households.

The high incidence of dependent children is important because unlike previous generations—such as Older Boomers and Silent and Greatest Generations, which experienced family formation when household heads were in their thirties—many Gen Xers postponed marriage and family. As a result, they also delayed peak asset-accumulation. Instead of focusing on "launching" children and planning for retirement, the majority of Gen Xers must focus on juggling competing financial priorities and managing debt. To add insult to injury, Generation X households have been hard hit by the recession; assets have not recovered, and home equity is not rebounding rapidly enough for older Gen X household heads. The data suggest that many Gen Xers will need to work well beyond the official retirement age as a result. For more detailed data, contact us to request the Excel file of tables and charts.


The majority of Generation X households are middle class and, as such, generally mirror the norm: all US households. They are distinctive because the majority are employed, they have a significantly higher-than-average incidence of dependent children, and they have lower-than-average assets and higher-than-average liabilities.

  • Median age is 43; 83% are employed; 63% are dual-headed households.
  • Mean 2011 pretax household income is $75K; roughly one-third have a college or postgraduate degree.
  • About one-quarter of households are child free. The MacroMonitor can generate additional tables to further discussion about whether family formation is being delayed by younger cohort members, if older Gen Xers are part of the growing overall incidence of child-free households, or both.
  • About two-thirds own a single-family home; for 30%, it is their first home. Slightly more than one-quarter live in a suburb of a large city. However, they are no more or less likely than all households to do so.


Only 11% of Generation X households are financially secure—a significantly lower incidence than for all households. About two in five households struggle to make ends meet; the same proportion say they are financially stable at present, despite a higher-than-average proportion of households that have a partial financial strategy (20%). The data indicate a strong probability that Generation X households are behind other generations at a similar age in asset accumulation.

  • Over half have a 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plan but are below average for ownership of products such as CDs, money market deposit accounts, money market mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and tangible assets.
  • Mean amounts for all assets are significantly below average; exceptions are educational savings accounts, 529 plans, and stock or bond mutual funds, homes, vehicles, and business.
  • Incidences for holding most credit products are statistically higher than average, as are mean amounts for consumer loans and credit-card balances.
  • Mean amounts in investment accounts ($186K) are less than half of balances for all households ($403K). Their mean balance in retirement accounts ($110K) is significantly lower than that for all households ($171K).

Financial Attitudes and Tidbits

Financial attitudes of Gen X households are interesting because, except fewer than a dozen (literally), they do not deviate from the norm, because almost one-third of household heads are outer directed—they generally agree with the last respected person they speak with. Almost half are mainstream American households. Only one-quarter of Gen X–headed households are high-resourced households.

  • Three quarters use the internet for financial services; someone in 84% of households has used internet financial services on a wireless devise in the past two years.
  • Although no more or less likely than all households to use the internet for most financial services, they are significantly more likely to shop for, apply for, and obtain credit products online.
  • In comparison with all households, the estimated mean number of their total annual financial transactions (excluding cash transactions) is somewhat higher: 638 for all households, 705 for Gen X households—proof that they are in high-transactions Life Stages.
  • Almost two-thirds used no financial-information source in the past two years before selecting a product or a service or making a financial decision. They are about average for not doing so.
  • However, statistically higher-than-average proportions are interested in learning more about managing debt, budgeting, choosing investments, refinancing mortgages, and preparing for retirement.


Generation X household heads in child-rearing Life Stages may be older than previous Age Cohorts because of delayed marriage and family formation. As a result, they will also kick asset accumulation and retirement planning down the road. Many opportunities exist for institutions to service Gen X households over the next two decades. In addition to having credit, debt-management, and consolidation needs, these households have saving, investment, and insurance needs. Their interest in learning more—gathering information and advice—about financial products and services may likely exceed their time and money to do so. Burned by the recession, and because many have modest financial resources, the majority of Gen X Households prefer safe, low-risk products. For example, only about 7% have any stockbrokerage relationship; that incidence may not increase dramatically. Provided that trust doesn't erode further, banks have the greatest opportunity to serve Gen X households—not only because they handle many of Gen X households' transactions but also because the majority of Gen X households consider a bank their primary financial institution.

New Deliverables for MacroMonitor Subscribers

If these households are important to your business and you would like to learn more, contact us to request the edited data tables and charts on which this Segment Summary is based.

Also available is the new December 2013 Dirty Dozen, a set of one dozen annotated graphic-analysis charts covering topics related to Generation X households.