U.S. Stock Ownership

Taking Stock

Analyzing Stock Ownership in the U.S. Before and After the Financial Crisis

From 2001 to 2008, 62% of adults in the U.S. owned stocks on average. Once the financial crisis hit in late 2008, though, many Americans were scared out of their holdings. In the years following the crisis between 2009 and 2017, only 54% of U.S. adults owned stocks on average.

In a recent Gallup Study, researchers discovered that stock ownership before and after the financial crisis varied significantly across age groups and income brackets.

To see how different groups reacted to the crisis, and which ones have proportionally benefitted the most from this recent bull market, let's visualize the data!

Average % of Americans who own stocks by age

2001 to 2008
2009 - 2017


Both before and after the financial crisis, stock ownership was highest among 30 to 64 year olds. This makes sense as income tends to be highest during these years, 401(k) investment plans are more commonplace, and most people have at least some savings to invest.

Following the crisis, stock ownership declined in every age bracket, except for those 65 and older, who actually saw a one percent increase.

The group with the largest decline in stock ownership was the 18 to 29 year-old age bracket, with average ownership dropping from 42% to 31% following the crash.

It's pretty clear that older age groups have benefitted the most during this incredible bull market from 2009 to 2017, with proportionally fewer young people participating in the stock market.

Next, let's take a look at stock ownership by annual household income.


Average % of Americans who own stocks by income bracket

2001 to 2008
2009 - 2017


Perhaps it's no surprise that stock ownership is highly correlated with annual household income. A significantly higher percentage of households earning $100,000 + yearly invest in stocks compared to households earning less than $30,000 per year.

Before the financial crisis, 27% of households with annual incomes below $30,000 owned stocks. This number dropped to 21% following the crisis. Conversely, 88% of households earning over $100,000 annually owned stocks before the crisis, which increased to 89% following it.

The $30,000 - $74,999 income bracket experienced the largest drop in stock ownership following the crisis, with ownership rates dropping from 67% to 54%.

The $100,000 + income bracket was the most resistant to the financial crash, with ownership rates even increasing following 2008.


In general, the percentage of Americans who own stocks declined following the financial crisis of 2008. However, high-income households and the elderly maintained their exposure to stocks through the crisis. It seems that these two groups in particular have benefitted the most from the bull market that has followed the crash.

Despite the impressive performance of the stock market following the crash, it hasn't been enough to entice young investors and low-income households to invest. Part of the reason is undoubtedly because these two groups have less money to invest compared to their older, higher-income counterparts. Time will tell if investors remain turned off from investing in stocks or if stock ownership rates return to their pre-crisis levels.


"18 to 29",42, 31
"30 to 49",71, 62
"50 to 64",69, 62
"65+",53, 54
"Less than $30,000",27,21
"$30,000 to $74,999",67,54
"$75,000 to $99,999",85,75