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The distribution of wealth, 1983-1992: secular growth, cyclical stability

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  • John C. Weicher
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    Abstract

    This article describes the changes in the concentration of wealth among U.S. households between 1983 and 1992, a period which nearly coincides with the most recent business cycle. The distribution of wealth has received popular attention recently, based on reports that it became markedly more unequal during the economic expansion of the 1980s. New data for 1992 indicates that the distribution was about the same in 1992 as in 1983, or for that matter as in 1962. A modest, insignificant increase in concentration between 1983 and 1989 was completely reversed by 1992. While the distribution was stable, total wealth and wealth per household increased over the cycle; rich and poor households enjoyed an approximately equal gain, in percentage terms.

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    File URL: http://research.stlouisfed.org/wp/more/1996-012/
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 1996-012.

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    Date of creation: 1996
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    Publication status: Published in Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, January/February 1997, 79(1)
    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:1996-012

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    Keywords: Wealth;

    References

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    1. Poterba, J.M. & Samwick, A.A., 1996. "Stock Ownership Patterns, Stock Market Fluctuations, and Consumption," Working papers 96-2, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    2. Lerman, Robert I. & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1989. "Improving the accuracy of estimates of Gini coefficients," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 43-47, September.
    3. Arthur B. Kennickell & Martha Starr-McCluer, 1994. "Changes in family finances from 1989 to 1992: evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Oct, pages 861-882.
    4. Richard T. Curtin & Thomas Juster & James N. Morgan, 1989. "Survey Estimates of Wealth: An Assessment of Quality," NBER Chapters, in: The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth, pages 473-552 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Lynn Karoly & Gary Burtless, 1995. "Demographic change, rising earnings inequality, and the distribution of personal well-being, 1959–1989," Demography, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 379-405, August.
    6. Robert E. Lipsey & Helen Stone Tice, 1989. "The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lips89-1, octubre-d.
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