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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Education Debt Owed by Older Families in the 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances
Much of the education debt in the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) currently resides in households headed by person 40 years or older. These families are the focus of this note.
Signaling Status: The Impact of Relative Income on Household Consumption and Financial Decisions
This paper investigates the importance of status in household consumption and financial decisions using household data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) linked to neighborhood data in the American Community Survey (ACS). We find evidence that a household's income rank--its position in the income distribution relative to its close neighbors--is positively associated with its expenditures on high status cars, its level of indebtedness, as well as the riskiness of the household's portfolio. More aggregate county-level evidence based on a dataset of every new car sold in each county in ...
Top Income Concentration and Volatility
Measures of income concentration?such as the share of income received by the highest income families?may be biased by pro-cyclical volatility in annual income. Permanent income, though, can smooth away such volatility and sort families by their usual economic resources. Here, we demonstrate this bias using rolling 3-year panels of IRS tax records from 1997 to 2013 as a proxy for permanent income. For example, one measure of 2012 income concentration?the share of income received by the top 0.1 percent?falls from 11.3 percent to 8.9 percent when families are organized by permanent income ...
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 ...
How Much has Wealth Concentration Grown in the United States? A Re-Examination of Data from 2001-2013
Well known research based on capitalized income tax data shows robust growth in wealth concentration in the late 2000s. We show that these robust growth estimates rely on an assumption---homogeneous rates of return across the wealth distribution---that is not supported by data. When the capitalization model incorporates heterogeneous rates of return (on just interest-bearing assets), wealth concentration estimates in 2011 fall from 40.5% to 33.9%. These estimates are consistent in levels and trend with other micro wealth data and show that wealth concentration increases until the Great ...