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Author:Volz, Alice Henriques 

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.
Reports and Studies

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 In implementing this change, though, we risk identifying an outdated set of families and introducing variability in the sampling process.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
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

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

Discussion Paper
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.
FEDS Notes , Paper 2018-12-21-1

Discussion Paper
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.
FEDS Notes , Paper 2015-06-05

Journal Article
Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2013 to 2016: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances

Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances The Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances for 2016 provides insights into the evolution of family income and net worth since the previous time the survey was conducted, in 2013. The survey shows that, over the 2013-16 period, the median value of real (inflation-adjusted) family income before taxes rose 10 percent, and mean income increased 14 percent. Real median net worth increased 16 percent, and mean net worth increased 26 percent. The data also indicate that gains in income and net worth are broad based, occurring across many ...
Federal Reserve Bulletin , Volume 103 , Issue 3

Discussion Paper
Has Tax-Preferred Retirement Saving Offset Rising Wealth Concentration?

The share of wealth owned by top wealth-holders in the U.S. has been rising over the past few decades, though there is some debate about exactly how concentrated wealth is, and how fast those top wealth shares are rising.
FEDS Notes , Paper 2016-07-29-2

Discussion Paper
The Role of Social Security in Overall Retirement Resources: A Distributional Perspective

In this note, we first present trends in participation in employment-related retirement plans, and then provide analysis for one birth cohort, nearing retirement age, of the impact of Social Security on retirement wealth.
FEDS Notes , Paper 2016-07-29-1


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