A.G. Edwards has compiled results from a survey and has developed a “Nest Egg Index.” The statistics measured include participation in retirement plans, debt levels, home ownership — all major contributors to net worth.
I found some items within the results personally interesting: My home state of New Jersey tops the index [cnn] of states, and my immediate community (three counties) places third on the index of metropolitan areas behind San Jose and Long Island.
More findings below…
There are external forces involved, such as economic trends and cost of living. But other factors, such as starting early, participating in a retirement plan at work and keeping personal debt low, are based on personal choices that help foster financial security for individuals and families, regardless of where they live.
Even those living otside of New Jersey will find this interesting: Big cities don’t necessarily score highly on the index. New York City didn’t make the top 200 communities. This makes sense; while the city contains high earners, there are many more low earners and many of the high earners are big spenders rather than savers.
A score of 100 was given to the theoretically average scoring community. States and metropolitan areas were then assigned a score based on their standard deviation. Based on data from a marketing research company, the index uses “savings propensity,” retirement plan penetration (401(k) and pensions), investment accounts, net worth, primary property value, mortgage balances, debt level, household income, cost of living and the local employment rate. Mix all ingredients in a large melting pot (or salad bowl) and stir vigorously.
* Heavily populated states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic scored better than the West. Only two of the top ten states are located west of the Mississippi River.
* The three states with biggest business, New York, California, and Texas, did not receive high scores, despite the abundance of retirement plans conciding with these businesses.
* High tax burden per capita did not correlate with Nest Egg Index rankings. Tax rate probably has little effect on the individual’s ability to build wealth.
What if the Nest Egg Index was expanded to measure individuals rather than a geographic average? What would your Nest Egg Index score be? The most simple way to figure this out would be to determine whether your net worth is above or below average for the group of individuals who have the same number of years until retirement. Other items like those above can be factored in to make the calculation more complex.
Published or updated December 13, 2005.