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Author:Volz, Alice Henriques 

Working Paper
Analysis of wealth using micro and macro data: a comparison of the Survey of Consumer Finances and Flow of Funds Accounts

Researchers use different types of household balance sheet data to study different aspects of lifecycle saving and wealth accumulation behavior. Macro data from the Flow of Funds Accounts (FFA) are produced at a quarterly frequency and are available in a timely manner, but they can only be used to study the behavior of the household sector as a whole. Micro data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) are available every three years and only with a lag, but they can be used to address questions that involve differences in behavior over time and across various types of households. Despite ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2013-46

Working Paper
The Effect of Shocks to College Revenues on For-Profit Enrollment: Spillover from the Public Sector

This paper investigates whether declines in public funding for post-secondary institutions have increased for-profit enrollment. The two primary channels through which funding might operate to reallocate students across sectors are price (measured by tuition) and quality (measured by resource constraints). We estimate, on average, that a 10 percent cut in appropriations raises tuition about 1 to 2 percent and decreases faculty resources by 1/2 to 1 percent, creating substantial bottlenecks for prospective students on both price and quality. These cuts, in turn, generate a nearly one ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2015-25

Working Paper
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 ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2015-30

Working Paper
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 ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2019-017

Working Paper
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 ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2020-043

Working Paper
How does Social Security claiming respond to incentives? considering husbands' and wives' benefits separately

A majority of women receive most of their Social Security benefits based upon their husbands' earnings history, but previous research has shown that husbands' benefit claiming is inconsistent with maximizing lifetime benefits for the couple. However, that research assumes husbands choose their claim age based on all Social Security incentives facing the household. I show that husbands' claiming behavior responds to the actuarial incentives built into their own retired worker benefit formula, but not to the incentives built into the spouse and survivor formulas that determine their wives' ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2012-19

Working Paper
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 ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2018-024

Working Paper
Updates to the Sampling of Wealthy Families in the Survey of Consumer Finances

Participation in household surveys has fallen over time, making it harder to produce a household survey-like the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF)-in a timely manner. To address these challenges, the reference year of the sampling frame data for the 2016 SCF wealthy oversample was shifted back one year, allowing the oversample to be selected earlier than the past. In implementing this change, though, we risk identifying an outdated set of families and introducing variability in the sampling process. However, we show that the set of families selected in the new frame are observationally ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2017-114

Working Paper
Are homeowners in denial about their house values? comparing owner perceptions with transaction-based indexes

The boom and bust of the housing market has been a prominent feature of the household financial landscape in recent years. The exact magnitude of the house price swings depends on whether you ask homeowners how much their houses are worth at two points in time or use the change in a transaction-based house price index (HPI). During the boom, owner-reported values rose much more rapidly than the HPI, and after the bust, owner-reported values fell slightly less than the HPI. Individual homeowner "errors" are estimated to explain about one-third of the different in aggregate changes in the ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2013-79

Working Paper
The Evolution of Retirement Wealth

Is the current mix of tax preferences for employer-sponsored pensions and individual retirement saving in the U.S. delivering the best possible retirement-preparedness across and within generations? Using data from the triennial Survey of Consumer Finances for 1989 through 2013, cohort-based analysis of life-cycle trajectories shows that (1) overall retirement plan participation was relatively stable or even rising through 2007, though participation fell noticeably in the wake of the Great Recession and has remained lower, (2) participation is strongly correlated with income, and the shift in ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2015-9

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