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Public Policy Options to Build Wealth for America’s Middle Class

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  • Christian E. Weller
  • Amy Helburn

Abstract

The financial crisis of 2007 and thereafter has taken a toll on family wealth. About $15 trillion (in 2008 dollars) --22.8%--were lost in the first 18 months of the financial crisis which started in the spring of 2007. The loss of household wealth deserves public policy attention. Wealth serves critical economic security functions in an economy that relies heavily on individual initiative, such as the United States. It is a store of future income, in the case of retirement, unemployment, illness or injury which allows families to smooth consumption over their lifetime. Families with sufficient wealth also need not worry about the basic necessities of life and may focus on longer term economic opportunity. Christian Weller and Amy Helburn describe three goals for public policy to help families build stable and sustainable wealth: greater savings rates, lower costs of building wealth, and less risk exposure. In Working Paper, they highlight a few policy examples in each of these categories.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst in its series Working Papers with number wp210.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:uma:periwp:wp210

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  1. Timothy Bates, 2001. "Financing the development of urban minority communities: lessons from history," Communities and Banking, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Sum, pages 12-15.
  2. Eric M. Engen & William G. Gale, 2000. "The Effects of 401(k) Plans on Household Wealth: Differences Across Earnings Groups," NBER Working Papers 8032, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Esther Duflo & William Gale & Jeffrey Liebman & Peter Orszag & Emmanuel Saez, 2005. "Saving incentives for low- and middle-income families: Evidence from a field experiment with h&r block," Framed Field Experiments 00234, The Field Experiments Website.
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  5. Munnell, Alicia H. & Geoffrey M. B. Tootell & Lynn E. Browne & James McEneaney, 1996. "Mortgage Lending in Boston: Interpreting HMDA Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 25-53, March.
  6. Goddard, John A. & McKillop, Donal G. & Wilson, John O. S., 2002. "The growth of US credit unions," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(12), pages 2327-2356.
  7. Marianne A. Hilgert & Jeanne M. Hogarth & Sondra G. Beverly, 2003. "Household financial management: the connection between knowledge and behavior," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Jul, pages 309-322.
  8. James Poterba & Joshua Rauh & Steven Venti & David Wise, 2007. "Defined contribution plans, defined benefit plans, and the accumulation of retirement wealth," NBER Chapters, in: Trans-Atlantic Public Economics Seminar (TAPES), Public Policy and Retirement, pages 2062-2086 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Dean Baker, 2006. "Universal Voluntary Accounts: A Step Towards Fixing the Retirement System," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2006-30, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
  10. Lynn Fox & Joy Hoffmann, 2004. "Federal Reserve personal financial education initiatives," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Aut, pages 447-457.
  11. William R. Emmons & Frank A. Schmid, 2000. "Bank competition and concentration: do credit unions matter?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 29-42.
  12. Robert M. Feinberg, 2001. "The Competitive Role Of Credit Unions In Small Local Financial Services Markets," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(3), pages 560-563, August.
  13. Leggett, Keith J. & Strand, Robert W., 2002. "Membership growth, multiple membership groups and agency control at credit unions," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 37-46.
  14. Feinberg, Robert M. & Rahman, A. F. M. Ataur, 2001. "A causality test of the relationship between bank and credit union lending rates in local markets," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 271-275, May.
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