Alainta Alcin has heard about the huge transfer of wealth from baby boomers to their millennial children that is underway — a move that has been called the largest shift of assets in history. But Ms. Alcin, an analyst for hospital systems, says it bears little resemblance to her own family’s experience.

“Unfortunately, my mom is one paycheck away from being unable to pay for anything,” said Ms. Alcin, a 34-year-old resident of West Palm Beach, Fla. “There’s nothing to transfer.”

Baby boomers have trillions of dollars in wealth that some economists predict will have a significant impact on their millennial-aged children when they inherit the cash, homes, stock portfolios and other assets their elders hold. But experts say that the narrative of millennials’ paying off debts and wielding greater spending power over the next two to three decades is complex — and leaves out families without enough assets to pass along.

As a first-generation American, Ms. Alcin saw her mother struggle to raise herself and five siblings after her father died. The elder Ms. Alcin had menial agricultural jobs — work that, at the age of 67, has become more difficult to do, even as she tries to make higher payments on her home’s adjustable-rate mortgage.

“She only has a limited amount of time where she can continue to work,” Ms. Alcin said. “It just seems as though economists miss a part of the hidden stories of people where there’s no wealth to begin with.”

In particular, young adults who are providing for aging parents while trying to establish their own retirement nest eggs worry that this inflection point will leave them further behind. Federal Reserve data shows that the average net worth among those aged 65 to 74 in 2022 was nearly $1.8 million. This figure is skewed by those at the upper end of the wealth spectrum, though. At the median, the average net worth of this age bracket was roughly $410,000, a figure that includes the values of homes and investments.


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