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Household wealth, public consumption and economic well-being in the United States

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  • Edward N. Wolff
  • Ajit Zacharias
  • Asena Caner

Abstract

Standard official measures of household economic well-being in several countries are based on money income. The general consensus is that such measures are limited because they ignore certain crucial determinants of well-being. We examine two such determinants--household wealth and public consumption--in the context of the US. Our findings suggest that the level and distribution of economic well-being is substantially altered when money income is adjusted for wealth or public consumption. Over the 1989--2000 period, median well-being appears to increase faster when these adjustments are made than when standard money income is used. Adding imputed rent and annuity from household wealth to household income increases measured inequality, while adding public consumption reduces it. However, all three measures show about the same rise in inequality over the period. Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/cje/bei076
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Cambridge Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 29 (2005)
Issue (Month): 6 (November)
Pages: 1073-1090

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Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:29:y:2005:i:6:p:1073-1090

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  1. Edward N. Wolff & Ajit Zacharias, 2003. "The Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_372, Levy Economics Institute.
  2. Asena Caner & Edward Wolff, 2004. "Asset Poverty in the United States, 1984-1999," Challenge, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 47(1), pages 5-52, January.
  3. Ruggles, Patricia & O'Higgins, Michael, 1981. "The Distribution of Public Expenditure among Households in the United States," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 27(2), pages 137-64, June.
  4. Donald L. Lerman & James J. Mikesell, 1988. "Impacts of Adding Net Worth to the Poverty Definition," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 357-370, Oct-Dec.
  5. Smeeding, Timothy M & Weinberg, Daniel H, 2001. "Toward a Uniform Definition of Household Income," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 47(1), pages 1-24, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Francisco Azpitarte, 2008. "The Household Wealth Distribution in Spain: The Role of Housing and Financial Wealth," Working Papers 83, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  2. Francisco Azpitarte, 2010. "The household wealth distribution in Spain: The role of housing and financial wealth," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 194(3), pages 65-90, October.
  3. Antonio Jurado & Jesus Perez-Mayo, 2012. "Construction and Evolution of a Multidimensional Well-Being Index for the Spanish Regions," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 107(2), pages 259-279, June.

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