Accounting for racial wealth disparities in the United States
Using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, this paper updates and extends previous research on the racial wealth gap in the United States. We explore several hypotheses that help explain differential wealth accumulation by racial groups, including the importance of receiving inheritances and other financial support from relatives and the conditions in local real estate markets. By exploring the disparities among white, black, and Hispanic families, we make new contributions to the literature. We find that observable factors account for the entire wealth gap between white and Hispanic ...
Do rising top income shares affect the incomes or earnings of low and middle-income families?
This paper uses US state panel data to explore the relationship between the share of income received by affluent households and the level of income and earnings received by low and middle-income families. A rising top share of income can potentially lead to increases in the incomes of low and middle-income families if economic growth is sufficiently responsive to increases in inequality. A substantial literature on the impacts of inequality on economic growth exists, but has failed to achieve consensus, with various studies finding positive impacts, negative impacts, and no impacts on growth ...
Recent Trends in Wealth-Holding by Race and Ethnicity : Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances
Data from the newly released 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances show wealth has grown for families across race and ethnicity groups since 2013, but substantial disparities between groups persist.
Racial Wealth Disparities: Reconsidering the Roles of Human Capital and Inheritance
In this paper, we present updated measures of racial disparities in wealth using the most recent data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), augmented by household-level estimates of defined benefit (DB) pension wealth developed by Sabelhaus and Volz (2020). Including this important asset, we find that racial wealth disparities are smaller than the numbers typically discussed in other research or in the media, but the disparities remain substantial. The paper proceeds by exploring two specific factors that have long been identified as playing potentially important roles in generating ...
Comparing Micro and Macro Sources for Household Accounts in the United States: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances
Household income, spending, and net worth are key inputs in macroeconomic forecasting and economic research. Macro-level data sources are often used to measure household accounts, but lack important information about heterogeneity across different types of households that can be found in micro-level data sources. This paper compares aggregates computed based on one micro-level data source--the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF)--with macro-level sources of information on household accounts. We find that on most measures, aggregates computed from the SCF line up well with macro-level data ...
Updating the Racial Wealth Gap
Using newly available data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, this paper updates and extends the literature exploring the racial wealth gap. We examine several hypotheses proposed by previous researchers, including the importance of inherited wealth and other family support and that of trends in local real estate markets, and also extend the literature by exploring the gap across the distribution of wealth and simultaneously considering white, African American and Hispanic households. The findings indicate that observable factors account for all of wealth gap between white and Hispanic ...
Inequality and poverty in the United States: the aftermath of the Great Recession
This paper explores trends in inequality and poverty using both market and after-tax and transfer income in the period during and after the Great Recession (through 2011). Using market income (or wages), inequality and poverty rose sharply between 2008 and 2010. The primary exception is measures for the top of the distribution; annual wage and income shares of the top one percent dipped in 2008 and 2009. Including taxes and transfers, broad-based inequality measures also fell, and the poverty increase was muted. Tax and transfer policies lowered inequality and poverty, but those policies were ...
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 ...
Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2010 to 2013: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances
The Federal Reserve Board’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) collects information about family incomes, net worth, balance sheet components, credit use, and other financial outcomes.1 The 2013 SCF reveals substantial disparities in the evolution of income and net worth since the previous time the survey was conducted, in 2010.
Inequality in 3-D : Income, Consumption, and Wealth
We do not need to and should not have to choose amongst income, consumption, or wealth as the superior measure of well-being. All three individually and jointly determine well-being. We are the first to study inequality in three conjoint dimensions for the same households, using income, consumption, and wealth from the 1989-2016 Surveys of Consumer Finances (SCF). The paper focuses on two questions. What does inequality in two and three dimensions look like? Has inequality in multiple dimensions increased by less, by more, or by about the same as inequality in any one dimension? We find an ...