Center on Wealth and Philanthropy
Wealth and the Commonwealth Newsletter      VOLUME 32       July 15, 2014
For generous support of the Center's initiatives, we are grateful to 
  The Wieler Family   Foundation

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Dear Friends and Colleagues:

I want to thank you for carefully reading our latest report on the U.S. Wealth Transfer Estimate and appreciate all your comments and questions forwarded to me.

In this newsletter, my objective is to clarify many recent inquiries from journalists and the general public about the widely-quoted statistic incorrectly attributed to the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy (CWP) that women will control two-thirds of all U.S. wealth by 2030.  

I have asked John Havens, my colleague and Associate Director of CWP, to explain the source of this oft-quoted statistic of women and wealth which is being bandied about in many different forums as well as the research we have conducted in this area with regard to women and wealth transfer.

My best wishes to you for an enjoyable and restful summer.


Paul G. Schervish
Clarification of  Women and Wealth Statistic
 What is the basis of the quoted statistic attributed to CWP research that women will control 
two-thirds of all U.S. wealth by the year 2030?

Response by:
 John J. Havens,
 Associate Director of CWP

CWP has never published or promulgated any statistic regarding the widely-circulated quote that women will control two-thirds of all U.S. wealth by the year 2030.  What we have identified in our  research is that a large fraction of the wealth of married decedents transferred through estates will be technically bequeathed to a surviving spouse, and, in roughly two-thirds of all estates with a married decedent, this surviving spouse will be a woman (because women tend to live longer than men).  If the surviving spouse dies without remarrying, the wealth in their estate will be distributed to heirs, taxes, and charities and not necessarily transferred to another woman at that time.

Given the content of national surveys and other representative data concerning wealth, it is impossible to estimate the proportion of total wealth owned by women. The most recent Federal Reserve data (Survey of Consumer Finances for 2010) indicates that 58% of households are headed by a married person, 15% by a not married (never married, separated, divorced, or widowed) male, and 27% by a not married female. The married households own 81.3% ($47.3 trillion) of total wealth, the not married male households own 8.4% ($4.9 trillion), and the not married female households own 10.3% ($6.0 trillion).  It is not possible to attribute ownership among spouses from this SCF data and  the occurrences of joint ownership muddies the ownership waters even more.