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Differences in the Measurement of Wealth, Wealth Inequality and Wealth Composition Obtained from Alternative U.S. Wealth Surveys

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  • Juster, F Thomas
  • Kuester, Kathleen A

Abstract

Since household wealth surveys have been widely used to study saving and other issues, it is important to examine the reliability of the various survey estimates of wealth. In this paper, the authors assess the quality characteristics of the National Longitudinal Survey of Mature Men and the Retirement History Survey, as compared to the 1983 Survey of Consumer Finances. They find that the NLS and especially the RHS underreport wealth and wealth concentration. The underestimates of wealth held in the form of common stock, business equity, and investment real estate equity are substantial. The principal problem lies in underrepresentation of both tails of the wealth and income distributions, with the consequences of underrepresenting the upper tail being especially serious for wealth measurement. Several potential reasons for the underrepresentation are examined. Copyright 1991 by The International Association for Research in Income and Wealth.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by International Association for Research in Income and Wealth in its journal Review of Income & Wealth.

Volume (Year): 37 (1991)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 33-62

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Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:37:y:1991:i:1:p:33-62

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Cited by:
  1. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Hildebrand, Vincent, 2003. "The wealth and asset holdings of U.S.-born and foreign-born households: Evidence from SIPP data," IRISS Working Paper Series 2003-07, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.
  2. F. Thomas Juster & James P. Smith, 2004. "Improving the Quality of Economic Data: Lessons from the HRS and AHEAD," Labor and Demography 0402010, EconWPA.
  3. Lisa A. Keister, 2000. "Family Structure, Race, and Wealth Ownership: A Longitudinal Exploration of Wealth Accumulation Processes," Macroeconomics 0004051, EconWPA.
  4. Thomas K. Bauer & Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Vincent Hildebrand & Mathias Sinning, 2007. "A Comparative Analysis of the Nativity Wealth Gap," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 184, McMaster University.
  5. Gropp, Reint & Scholz, John Karl & White, Michelle J, 1997. "Personal Bankruptcy and Credit Supply and Demand," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 217-51, February.
  6. Thomas Juster & Honggao Cao & Mick Couper & Daniel Hill & Michael Hurd & Joseph Lupton & Michael Perry & James Smith, 2007. "Enhancing the Quality of Data on the Measurement of Income and Wealth," Working Papers wp151, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  7. Karen M. Pence, 2002. "401(k)s and household saving: new evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-6, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

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