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Recent Trends in the Size Distribution of Household Wealth

  • Edward N. Wolff

Based on the Survey of Consumer Finances, the distribution of wealth in the United States became much more unequal in the 1980s and that trend continued, albeit at a slower pace, in the 1990s. The only households that saw their mean net worth rise in absolute terms between 1983 and 1995 were those in the top 20 percent and the gains were particularly strong for the top one percent. All other groups were particularly strong for the top one percent. All other groups suffered real wealth losses, including the median household, and declines were particularly precipitous at the bottom. Racial disparities widened, and young households also lost out over this period.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 12 (1998)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 131-150

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:12:y:1998:i:3:p:131-50
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.12.3.131
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  1. Wolff, Edward N, 1996. "International Comparisons of Wealth Inequality," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 42(4), pages 433-51, December.
  2. Blau, Francine D & Graham, John W, 1990. "Black-White Differences in Wealth and Asset Composition," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 321-39, May.
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