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Jel Classification:D31 

Working Paper
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 ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2018-010

Working Paper
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 ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2018-001

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
Income and Earnings Mobility in U.S. Tax Data

We use a large panel of federal income tax data to investigate intragenerational income mobility in the United States. We have two primary objectives. First, we explore the determinants of two-year changes in individual labor earnings and family incomes, such as job or industry changes, marriage, divorce, and geographic mobility. Second, we evaluate how federal income taxes stabilize or destabilize post-tax income changes relative to pre-tax changes. We find a relatively high degree of income mobility, with almost half of workers exhibiting earnings increases or decreases of at least 25 ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2015-61

Working Paper
Household Incomes in Tax Data : Using Addresses to Move from Tax Unit to Household Income Distributions

Tax return data are increasingly the standard for tracking income statistics in the United States. However, these data have traditionally been limited by their inability to capture non-filers and to identify members of separate tax units living in the same household. We overcome these obstacles and create household records directly in the tax data using mailing address information included on tax forms. We then present the first set of tax-based household income and inequality measures for the entire income distribution. When comparing household income inequality results in the tax data to ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2017-002

Working Paper
Lining Up : Survey and Administrative Data Estimates of Wealth Concentration

The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) has a dual-frame sample design that supplements a standard area-probability frame with a sample of observations drawn from statistical records derived from tax returns. The tax-based frame is stratified on the basis of a "wealth index" constructed largely from observed income flows, with the intent of heavily oversampling wealthy households. Although the SCF is not specifically designed to estimate wealth concentration, the design arguably provides sufficient support to enable such analysis with a reasonable level of credibility. Similar estimates may ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2017-017

Working Paper
Consumption Heterogeneity: Micro Drivers and Macro Implications

This paper explores the microfoundations of consumption models and quantifies the macro implications of consumption heterogeneity. We propose a new empirical method to estimate the response of consumption to permanent and transitory income shocks for different groups of households. We then apply this method to administrative data from Denmark. The large sample size, along with detailed household balance sheet information, allows us to finely divide the population along relevant dimensions. We find that households that stand to lose from an interest rate hike are significantly more responsive ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2020-005

Working Paper
Confidence, Financial Literacy and Investment in Risky Assets: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances

We employ recent Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) microdata from the US to analyze the impacts of confidence in one’s own financial knowledge, confidence in the economy, and objective financial literacy on investment in risky financial assets (equity and bonds) on both the extensive and intensive margins. Controlling for a rich set of covariates including risk aversion, we find that objective financial literacy is positively related to investment in risky assets as well as debt securities. Moreover, confidence in own financial skills additionally increases the probability of holding risky ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2020-004

Working Paper
Evaluating the Success of President Johnson's War on Poverty: Revisiting the Historical Record Using a Full-Income Poverty Measure

We evaluate progress in President's Johnson's War on Poverty. We do so relative to the scientifically arbitrary but policy relevant 20 percent baseline poverty rate he established for 1963. No existing poverty measure fully captures poverty reductions based on the standard that President Johnson set. To fill this gap, we develop a Full-income Poverty Measure with thresholds set to match the 1963 Official Poverty Rate. We include cash income, taxes, and major in-kind transfers and update poverty thresholds for inflation annually. While the Official Poverty Rate fell from 19.5 percent in 1963 ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2020-011

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

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