The Great Wealth Transfer: Fact Or Fiction?

Frank Diana
2 min readApr 9, 2024

In a post from 2019, I described what some were calling the greatest wealth transfer in history. I pointed to an Article that positioned the next two decades in the United States as an unprecedented shift of demographics and finances. Baby Boomers were born between 1944 and 1964, and according to that article, this generation is expected to transfer $30 trillion in wealth to younger generations over the next many years: what some have called the “great wealth transfer.”

A more recent article paints a very different picture — one that I have focused on in my various presentations. This visual from my presentation depicts a shift in our traditional four segment life-cycle to five segments. This shift has a lot to do with the notion of wealth transfer. Here is a summary of the recent article that explores this in greater detail.

The notion of a ‘Great Wealth Transfer’ from baby boomers to millennials has captured imaginations and headlines alike, painting a picture of a financial windfall that will solve all of the younger generation’s money woes. However, Sarah Green Carmichael, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist and editor, argues that this narrative is far from reality in her recent article.

Carmichael dispels the myth by pointing out the harsh realities facing both boomers and millennials. While it’s true that boomers, as a demographic, hold a substantial amount of wealth, the idea that this wealth will seamlessly transfer to their children is flawed. Citing Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist, Carmichael highlights that the majority of boomers are not in a position to leave significant inheritances. In fact, data from the Federal Reserve shows that only a fraction of children actually receive inheritances, with even lower odds for non-White individuals.

Moreover, the seemingly impressive averages of boomer wealth are skewed by outliers and fail to reflect the financial struggles of the median individual. Rising home prices have inflated perceptions of boomer wealth, but many are burdened by debt and unforeseen retirement costs. Carmichael emphasizes the importance of addressing elders’ financial needs, particularly regarding healthcare and long-term care, instead of banking on hypothetical inheritances.

Furthermore, Carmichael warns millennials against relying on future windfalls, urging them to prioritize their own financial planning. She stresses that even if inheritances do materialize, they may come later in life, leaving millennials with insufficient time to reap the benefits. Anne Lester, former head of retirement solutions at JPMorgan, echoes this sentiment, advising against banking on uncertain late-life windfalls.

In addition to dispelling the myth of intergenerational wealth transfer, Carmichael sheds light on a concerning trend of financial support flowing from younger generations to their parents. Many adults in midlife find themselves financially strained as they support aging parents, further underscoring the instability of relying on inheritances.

Originally published at on April 9, 2024.



Frank Diana

TCS Executive focused on the rapid evolution of society and business. Fascinated by the view of the world in the next decade and beyond