Greatest Generation With Credit

Dec 13, 2013 by

Credit reporting goliath Experian recently released results of its 2013, and fourth annual, credit study, State of Credit. The study comprises a snapshot of how four age cohorts—The Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials—are handling credit and debt. Are you interested to learn how you stack up, credit and debt-wise, against others in your generation and against other generations? Read on.

‘State of Credit’ Background

To generate its study, Experian tapped a “statistically relevant” sampling of its consumer credit database (of which you’re almost certainly part, incidentally, like it or not). Here’s how Experian defined the four age cohorts:

  • Greatest Generation: age 66 and up
  • Baby Boomers: age 47 to 65
  • Generation X: age 30 to 46 (feeling old yet, X’ers?)
  • Millennials: age 19 to 29

The nifty infographic below that Experian sent me will give you some interesting highlights from the study, but in sum Millennials take a beating. Experian’s VP of Analytics, Ms. Michele Raneri, put it this way:

While this study looked at all four generations, we found that Millennials are in need of the most guidance to improve and build their overall credit health. The younger generation are still building their credit, but with the right combination of experience, credit education and choosing credit offers wisely, the 20’s can be used as a time to demonstrate creditworthiness and build a positive credit history.

Ouch. “In need of the most guidance”? Does that sound a bit patronizing, or is it just me? I might have said that ‘perhaps due to a dismal job market since 2008 and skyrocketing requirements to take on debt to finance their education, Millennials appear to be tackling steep challenges in gaining their financial footing.’ Or am I too charitable?

Check out the infographic for the study’s main results, nationally and segregated by generation.

State of Credit infographic


I love numbers like these. Here’s what struck me as especially interesting:

  • The Greatest Generation is kicking butt, just like they did in WW2. Their kids are long ago grown and off their payroll, and they’ve been socking away the maximum Social Security benefit for decades. I begrudge these folks nothing.
  • Something about Minnesota—my most recent U.S. state of residence—seems to be conducive to sound personal credit management. The best average credit scores for three of the four generations were notched by Minnesota cities. I guess it’s tough to run up debt while jigging for walleye through a hole in the ice on a frozen lake.
  • The residents of Harlingen, Texas may take the prize as the least creditworthy after ranking in the top ten cities for lowest credit scores for each age cohort except Generation X. Maybe that group has largely moved away.

More Generational Fun

Click on the infographic to go to Experian’s State of Credit webpage. There you can play with some fun interactive features and learn more about your neighbors’ and fellow Americans’ credit habits.

How You Doin’?

How do you match up to the averages in your generation? Are you surprised or shocked by any of the study’s results?

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