As national Women’s Equality Day approaches on August 26, 2023, it might lead you to wonder how women fare compared to men when it comes to net worth in the U.S. The fact is, while things are getting better, women still have a long way to go before reaching true income (or wealth) parity.
Women at the Top End of Wealth
According to Forbes Billionaires’ list (as of 2021 and analyzed by FinanceBuzz), only 12% of billionaires in the U.S. are women. And, compared to the wealthiest male billionaires, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest women billionaires hold just about 1/3 of the wealth of their male counterparts.
Comparing Wealth for Average Men and Women
When you get down to middle- and lower-income earners, the picture isn’t much brighter. A data study from Earnest in the same year revealed that men have roughly double the net worth of women.
Earnest analyzed cash, investment and debt balances on tens of thousands of applications for student loan refinancing. While this data only points to a specific demographic — people requesting student loan refinancing — the sample size was vast enough to draw speculative conclusions.
Earnest found that the average male applying for student loan refinancing had a net worth of roughly $12,188, while female applicants had a net worth of just $5,541. Men and women held roughly the same amount of cash reserves, less than $10,000, and men had slightly more debt — $24,095 for men compared to $23,511 for women.
When you’re talking about investing, the value is clear. Earnest calculated net worth based on cash plus investments minus debt. The average male in the survey had invested $26,717, while the average woman had just $19,541 put aside in stocks, bonds, ETFs, and other investments.
This divide may grow as time goes on. At just a 5% return (lower than you might expect from the S&P 500), in 30 years the average male applicant should have $120,000 set aside, while average female applicant would hold $87,563.
Also: Here’s How Much Every Living US President Is Worth — Where Does Biden Rank?
Expert Tips for Women Investors
Sallie Krawcheck, founder of Ellevest, offered tips for women to address this disparity in a previous Earnest blog post. She suggested it’s not that women are afraid to invest, as outdated myths might have people believe. It’s that women make less than men and, therefore, have less to invest.
Women may also shy away from riskier investments that might net higher returns. Krawcheck advised women to begin investing early to leverage the power of compound interest — and negotiate higher wages to earn more to invest.
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