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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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Author Info

  • F. Thomas Juster
  • Kathleen A. Kuester

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

Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 116.

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Date of creation: 1990
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:116

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Related research

Keywords: Wealth ; Income distribution;

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Cited by:
  1. Bauer, Thomas K. & Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Hildebrand, Vincent A. & Sinning, Mathias, 2007. "A Comparative Analysis of the Nativity Wealth Gap," IZA Discussion Papers 2772, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. 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.
  3. F. Thomas Juster & James P. Smith, 2004. "Improving the Quality of Economic Data: Lessons from the HRS and AHEAD," Labor and Demography 0402010, EconWPA.
  4. 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.).
  5. 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.
  6. Lisa A. Keister, 2000. "Family Structure, Race, and Wealth Ownership: A Longitudinal Exploration of Wealth Accumulation Processes," Macroeconomics 0004051, EconWPA.
  7. Reint Gropp & John Karl Scholz & Michelle White, 1996. "Personal Bankruptcy and Credit Supply and Demand," NBER Working Papers 5653, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Peter Krause & Bruce Headey, 1995. "Rich and Poor: Stability or Change?: West German Income Mobility 1984-93," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 126, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

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