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 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 ...
Wealth Distribution and Retirement Preparation Among Early Savers
This paper develops a new combined wealth measure using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, by augmenting data on net worth with estimates of defined benefit (DB) pension wealth and expected Social Security wealth. We use this combined wealth concept to explore retirement preparation among groups of households in their pre-retirement years (40-49 and 50-59) and also to explore the concentration of wealth. We find evidence of moderate, but rising, shortfalls in retirement preparation. We also show that including DB pension and Social Security wealth results in markedly lower measures of ...
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 ...
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 ...
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.
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 ...
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.