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Recent changes in U.S. family finances: evidence from the 1998 and 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances

Author

Listed:
  • Ana M. Aizcorbe
  • Arthur B. Kennickell
  • Kevin B. Moore

Abstract

Data from the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances show a striking pattern of growth in family income and net worth between 1998 and 2001. Inflation-adjusted incomes of families rose broadly, although growth was fastest among the group of families whose income was higher than the median. The median value of family net worth grew faster than that of income, but as with income, the growth rates of net worth were fastest for groups above the median. The years between 1998 and 2001 also saw a rise in the proportion of families that own corporate equities either directly or indirectly (such as through mutual funds or retirement accounts); by 2001 the proportion exceeded 50 percent. The growth in the value of equity holdings helped push up financial assets as a share of total family assets despite a decline in the overall stock market that began in the second half of 2000. ; The level of debt carried by families rose over the period, but the expansion in equities and the increased values of principal residences and other assets were sufficient to reduce debt as a proportion of family assets. The typical share of family income devoted to debt repayment also fell over the period. For some groups, however--particularly those with relatively low levels of income and wealth--a concurrent rise in the frequency of late debt payments indicated that their ability to service their debts had deteriorated.

Suggested Citation

  • Ana M. Aizcorbe & Arthur B. Kennickell & Kevin B. Moore, 2003. "Recent changes in U.S. family finances: evidence from the 1998 and 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Jan, pages 1-32.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgrb:y:2003:i:jan:p:1-32:n:v.89no.1
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