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The Great Wealth Transfer Is Making History for Women

Originally published by Emily Green for Ellevest Magazine

“The Great Wealth Transfer” sounds like long-ago history, but it’s happening right now. If you’re sorting out your estate or expecting a windfall someday, it’s happening to you — and it could be transformative for a generation of women. 

Here’s what you need to know as we move into this new era.

What is the Great Wealth Transfer?

The Great Wealth Transfer is a colossal shift in who owns money in the United States. Right now, half of all wealth is held by Boomers. Over the next 20 years, it will be inherited. And women will control more money than they ever have. 

This gender shift is happening in two ways. Women tend to live longer than men, so more women Boomers will manage their wealth independently. Meanwhile, money will be handed down. Gen X will receive some, but the much larger millennial generation — with its record numbers of single women — will end up with most of it. 

Some sources have this amount of money at $84 trillion. Others say it’s closer to $129 trillion, thanks to government policy during the pandemic. And we don’t need to wait a generation, either: This is going on right now. In fact, by 2030, American women will manage at least $30 trillion, more than the national GDP. We’ve never seen this kind of change in our lives, or in our grandmothers’ lives. 

A history-making opportunity for women and wealth

The gender wealth gap, or the discrepancy in the amount of money men vs women own, is much larger than the pay gap. Plus, even if the pay gap disappeared, women would still be at a serious economic disadvantage thanks to centuries of legal oppression, especially for Black and Native American women. See: slavery, Jim Crow, being denied land sovereignty, unequal access to education, redlining, and modern-day inequities that all affect who gets to build wealth and how.

The gender wealth gap acknowledges that financial equality isn’t just about the money you have now — it’s also about your capacity for making things better for your family in the long run and how you’re able to create stability for future generations.

So while the Great Wealth Transfer can budge the wealth gap, it won’t close it completely. But what is encouraging is what women will choose to do with their money. Will we inherit it and let it sit in the bank? Or will we step into our power and use it intentionally?

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