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Recent Trends in Household Wealth, 1983-2009: The Irresistible Rise of Household Debt

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  • Edward Nathan Wolff

Abstract

I find here that the early and mid 2000s (2001 to 2007) witnessed both exploding debt and a consequent middle class squeeze. Median wealth grew briskly in the late 1990s and even faster in the 2000s. The inequality of net worth was up slightly during the 2000s. Indebtedness, which fell substantially during the late 1990s, skyrocketed in the early and mid 2000s. Among the middle class, the debt-income ratio reached its highest level in 24 years. The disparity in wealth holdings between African-American and white households was about the same in 2007 as in 1983, though Hispanics did show some relative gains on non-Hispainc whites over the years 2001 to 2007. Young households (under the age of 45) after some relative gains from 1983 to 1989, saw their relative wealth position deteriorate over the years 1989 to 2007. Projections to July 2009 on the basis of changes in stock and housing prices suggest that median wealth plunged by 36 percent and there was a fairly steep rise in wealth inequality, with the Gini coefficient advancing from 0.834 to 0.865.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward Nathan Wolff, 2011. "Recent Trends in Household Wealth, 1983-2009: The Irresistible Rise of Household Debt," Review of Economics and Institutions, Universit√† di Perugia, vol. 2(1).
  • Handle: RePEc:pia:review:v:2:y:2011:i:1:n:4
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Sebastian Dyrda & Marcelo Pedroni, 2015. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in a Model with Uninsurable Idiosyncratic Shocks," Working Papers tecipa-550, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    2. Alice M. Henriques & Joanne W. Hsu, 2014. "Analysis of Wealth Using Micro- and Macrodata: A Comparison of the Survey of Consumer Finances and Flow of Funds Accounts," NBER Chapters,in: Measuring Economic Sustainability and Progress, pages 245-274 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. repec:spr:demogr:v:55:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s13524-018-0676-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Alice M. Henriques & Joanne W. Hsu, 2013. "Analysis of wealth using micro and macro data: a comparison of the Survey of Consumer Finances and Flow of Funds Accounts," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2013-46, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    household wealth; inequality; racial inequality; portfolio composition;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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