Middle-Class Economic Security Declines As Risks Rise And Wealth Falls

More and more families save for their retirement on their own and have to manage the financial risks that come with it without much outside help. They often incur a lot of risk and could lose pretty large shares of their total wealth. They could face such excessive risk if they owe a lot of debt relative to their total assets. And they could have a lot of risk if they have lot of money invested in risky assets such as stocks, housing and private business ownership. Families in the bottom half of the wealth distribution do worse than wealthier families on both indebtedness and risky asset concentration.

This is not how this is supposed to work. Families that choose to take on disproportionately more risk should also see larger rewards, reflected in a larger share of total wealth. The story for middle-class families, though, is one of more risk and less wealth.