Trends in household portfolio composition
We use data from the Federal Reserve Board?s Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) to explore how household asset portfolios in the United States evolved between 1989 and 2016. Throughout this period, two key assets ? housing and financial market assets ? drove the household balance sheet evolution; however, we find a great heterogeneity in the balance sheets that averages and aggregates conceal. We observe that ownership of assets has become more concentrated over time, and we show that nearly all of the time series variation in financial vulnerabilities in family balance sheets is due to middle-income families, who hold most of their assets in housing and are often the most highly leveraged income group in the housing market. Tracking the evolution of wealth over time among birth-year cohorts, we observe the standard life-cycle asset accumulation processes among low-, middle-, and high-income families.
AUTHORS: Bricker, Jesse; Moore, Kevin B.; Thompson, Jeffrey P.
Household mobility over the Great Recession: evidence from the U.S. 2007-09 Survey of Consumer Finances panel
This paper uses data from the 2007-09 Survey of Consumer Finances panel to examine U.S. households' decisions to move and the role of negative home equity and economic shocks, such as job loss, in these decisions. Even over this period of steep house price declines and sharp recession, we find that most moves were prompted by standard reasons. The recession's effects are nonetheless apparent in the notable fraction of homeowners who moved involuntarily due to, for example, foreclosure. Many involuntary moves appear to stem a combination of negative home equity and adverse economic shocks rather than negative equity alone. Homeowners with both negative equity and economic shocks were substantially more likely to have moved between 2007 and 2009 and to have moved involuntarily. The findings suggest that, analogous to the double-trigger theory of default, the relationship between negative equity and household mobility varies with households' exposure to adverse shocks.
AUTHORS: Bricker, Jesse; Bucks, Brian K.
Credit Scores, Social Capital, and Stock Market Participation
While a rapidly growing body of research underscores the influence of social capital on financial decisions and economic developments, objective data-based measurements of social capital are lacking. We introduce average credit scores as an indicator of a community's social capital and present evidence that this measure is consistent with, but richer and more robust than, those used in the existing literature, such as electoral participation, blood donations, and survey-based measures. Merging unique proprietary credit score data with two nationwide representative household surveys, we show that households residing in communities with higher social capital are more likely to invest in stocks, even after controlling for a rich set of socioeconomic, preferential, neighborhood, and demographic characteristics. Notably, such a relationship is robustly observed only when social capital is measured using community average credit scores. Consistent with the notion that social capital and trust promote stock investment, we find the following: first, the association between average credit score and stock ownership is more pronounced among the lower educated; second, social capital levels of the county where one grew up appear to have a lasting influence on future stock investment; and third, investors who did not own stocks before have a greater chance of entering the stock market a few years after they relocate to higher-score communities.
AUTHORS: Bricker, Jesse; Li, Geng
Measuring Income and Wealth at the Top Using Administrative and Survey Data
Administrative tax data indicate that U.S. top income and wealth shares are substantial and increasing rapidly (Piketty and Saez 2003, Saez and Zucman 2014). A key reason for using administrative data to measure top shares is to overcome the under-representation of families at the very top that plagues most household surveys. However, using tax records alone restricts the unit of analysis for measuring economic resources, limits the concepts of income and wealth being measured, and imposes a rigid correlation between income and wealth. The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) solves the under-representation problem by combining administrative and survey data (Bricker et al, 2014). Administrative records are used to select the SCF sample and verify that high-end families are appropriately represented, and the survey is designed to measure comprehensive concepts of income and wealth at the family level. The SCF shows high and rising top income and wealth shares, as in the ad ministrative tax data. However, unadjusted, the levels and growth based on administrative tax data alone appear to be substantially larger. By constraining the SCF to be conceptually comparable, we reconcile the differences, and show the extent to which restrictions and rigidities needed to estimate top income and wealth shares in the administrative data bias up levels and growth rates.
AUTHORS: Henriques, Alice M.; Sabelhaus, John; Bricker, Jesse; Krimmel, Jacob
The role of specific subjects in education production functions: evidence from morning classes in Chicago public high schools
Absences in Chicago Public High Schools are 3-7 days per year higher in first period than at other times of the day. This study exploits this empirical regularity and the essentially random variation between students in the ordering of classes over the day to measure how the returns to classroom learning vary by course subject, and how much attendance in one class spills over into learning in other subjects. We find that having a class in first period reduces grades in that course and has little effect on long-term grades or grades in related subjects. We also find moderately-sized negative effects of having a class in first period on test scores in that subject and in related subjects, particularly for math classes.
AUTHORS: Cortes, Kalena E.; Rohlfs, Chris; Bricker, Jesse
Introducing the Distributional Financial Accounts of the United States
This paper describes the construction of the Distributional Financial Accounts (DFAs), a new dataset containing quarterly estimates of the distribution of U.S. household wealth since 1989, and provides the first look at the resulting data. The DFAs build on two existing Federal Reserve Board statistical products --- quarterly aggregate measures of household wealth from the Financial Accounts of the United States and triennial wealth distribution measures from the Survey of Consumer Finances --- to incorporate distributional information into a national accounting framework. The DFAs complement other existing sources of data on the wealth distribution by using a more comprehensive measure of household wealth and by providing quarterly data on a timely basis. We encourage policymakers, researchers, and other interested parties to use the DFAs to help understand issues related to the distribution of U.S. household wealth.
AUTHORS: Batty, Michael M.; Bricker, Jesse; Briggs, Joseph S.; Holmquist, Elizabeth Ball; McIntosh, Susan Hume; Moore, Kevin B.; Nielsen, Eric; Reber, Sarah; Shatto, Molly; Sommer, Kamila; Sweeney, Tom; Henriques, Alice M.
Credit Scores, Trust, and Stock Market Participation
Investments in stocks earn a substantially higher return than investment in safer assets in the long run, even after adjusting for risks in the stock market. However, not all households own stocks (Mankiw and Zeldes, 1991), and the share of U.S. households that invest in stocks has been much lower than the standard theory predicts--a phenomenon often referred to as the "participation puzzle."
AUTHORS: Bricker, Jesse; Li, Geng
The Increase in Wealth Concentration, 1989-2013
Wealth is highly concentrated in the United States, and top shares have been rising in recent decades, raising both normative and macroeconomic policy concerns.
AUTHORS: Bricker, Jesse; Henriques, Alice M.; Krimmel, Jacob; Sabelhaus, John
Does education loan debt influence household financial distress? An assessment using the 2007-09 SCF Panel
This paper uses the recent 2007-09 SCF panel to examine the influence of student loans on financial distress. Families with student loans in 2007 have higher levels of financial distress than families without such loans, and these families were more susceptible to transitions to financial distress during the early stages of the Great Recession. This correlation persists once we control for a host of other demographic, work-status, and household balance sheet measures. Families with an average level of student loans were 3.1 percentage points more likely to be 60 days late paying bills and 3 percentage points more likely to be denied credit. During this same time period, families with other types of consumer debt were no more or less likely to be financially distressed. Education loans enable students to go to college and improve their employment and earnings prospects. On average, families with education loans in the 2007-09 SCF saw higher income growth between surveys. Further, the value of completing a degree is evident in the data: families without a degree but with education debt drive much of the correlations between financial distress and education loans.
AUTHORS: Bricker, Jesse; Thompson, Jeffrey P.
Trends in Household Portfolio Composition
We use data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) to explore how household asset portfolios in the United States have evolved from 1989 to 2016. Throughout this period, two key assets?housing and financial market assets?have driven the aggregate household balance sheet evolution. However, aggregates mask great heterogeneity in balance sheet composition across the wealth distribution, and most families hold a relatively small share of assets in financial markets and larger shares in housing and other nonfinancial assets. We also describe the typical life cycle asset accumulation processes among low, middle, and high-income families which?though varying dramatically by level?are quite similar. Finally, we use household balance sheets to describe how financial vulnerability has changed over time.
AUTHORS: Bricker, Jesse; Moore, Kevin B.; Thompson, Jeffrey P.