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Are Successive Generations Getting Wealthier, and If So, Why?

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Author Info

  • Willaim G. Gale

    (Brookings Institution)

  • Karen M. Pence

    (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System)

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    Abstract

    This paper examines the wealth of successive birth cohorts in the United States using data from the 1989-2001 Surveys of Consumer Finances. We find that older households (those aged 55-64, 65-74 or 75-84) in 2001 had more wealth than households of similar age in 1989, but that the same was not true of younger households. We also find that changes in standard demographic characteristics (marital status, educational attainment, years in the labor force, and health status) can explain most of the divergent trends across age groups. Given the historically large capital gains that accrued during the 1990s, these results raise some intriguing questions about the nature of saving and wealth accumulation during that decade.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution in its journal Brookings Papers on Economic Activity.

    Volume (Year): 37 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 155-234

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    Handle: RePEc:bin:bpeajo:v:37:y:2006:i:2006-1:p:155-234

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    Related research

    Keywords: wealth; macroeconomics; generations; birth cohorts; capital gains;

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    Cited by:
    1. J. Michael Collins & John Karl Scholz & Ananth Seshadri, 2013. "The Assets and Liabilities of Cohorts: The Antecedents of Retirement Security," Working Papers, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center wp296, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    2. David A. Love & Paul A. Smith & Lucy C. McNair, 2008. "A new look at the wealth adequacy of older U.S. households," Finance and Economics Discussion Series, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) 2008-20, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Thomas Y. Mathä & Alessandro Porpiglia & Michael Ziegelmeyer, 2014. "Household wealth in the euro area: The importance of intergenerational transfers, homeownership and house price dynamics," BCL working papers, Central Bank of Luxembourg 91, Central Bank of Luxembourg.

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