IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

On the Evolution of the US Consumer Wealth Distribution

  • Thomas Hintermaier

    (Universitaet Bonn)

  • Winfried Koeniger

    (Queen Mary, University of London)

We use all available waves of the Survey of Consumer Finances to document the evolution of the wealth distribution in the US since the 1980s. Relying on the shape of this distribution we then estimate a life-cycle incomplete markets model. We find that considering a wide range of net worth percentiles for prime-age consumers between ages 26 and 55 delivers very precise estimates of the structural parameters, impatience and risk aversion. The estimated model captures how average net worth increases with age while the dispersion of net worth falls with age. The model also predicts some of the evolution of the net worth distribution since the 1980s. Feeding the observed higher labor income risk into the model increases precautionary savings while the higher experience premium of labor earnings reduces wealth accumulation. Quantitatively, these two forces imply that the model reproduces the stable average net worth for young consumers since the 1980s and the increasing dispersion of net worth for all prime-age consumers, while the model does not predict the observed increase of average net worth for older consumers between ages 46 and 55. (Copyright: Elsevier)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full texts is restricted to ScienceDirect subscribers and institutional members. See for details.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics in its journal Review of Economic Dynamics.

Volume (Year): 14 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 317-338

in new window

Handle: RePEc:red:issued:08-75
Contact details of provider: Postal: Marina Azzimonti, Department of Economics, Stonybrook University, 10 Nicolls Road, Stonybrook NY 11790 USA
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Jesus Fernández-Villaverde & Dirk Krueger, 2007. "Consumption over the Life Cycle: Facts from Consumer Expenditure Survey Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(3), pages 552-565, August.
  2. Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Parker, Jonathan A, 2000. "Consumption Over the Life-Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 2345, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Cagetti, Marco, 2003. "Wealth Accumulation over the Life Cycle and Precautionary Savings," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 21(3), pages 339-53, July.
  4. Angus Deaton, 1989. "Saving and Liquidity Constraints," NBER Working Papers 3196, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Caporale, Tony & Grier, Kevin B, 2000. "Political Regime Change and the Real Interest Rate," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(3), pages 320-34, August.
  6. Christopher D. Carroll, 2005. "The Method of Endogenous Gridpoints for Solving Dynamic Stochastic Optimization Problems," NBER Technical Working Papers 0309, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jonathan Heathcote & Fabrizio Perri & Giovanni L. Violante, 2009. "Unequal We Stand: An Empirical Analysis of Economic Inequality in the United States, 1967-2006," NBER Working Papers 15483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Andrew G. Biggs, 2011. "Social Security," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 6033, April.
  9. Iourii Manovskii & Gueorgui Kambourov, 2005. "Accounting for the Changing Life-Cycle Profile of Earnings," 2005 Meeting Papers 231, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Greg Kaplan & Giovanni L. Violante, 2009. "How Much Consumption Insurance Beyond Self-Insurance?," NBER Working Papers 15553, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae & Makoto Nakajima & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2002. "A Quantitative Theory of Unsecured Consumer Credit with Risk of Default," Centro de Alti­simos Estudios Ri­os Pe©rez(CAERP) 2, Centro de Altisimos Estudios Rios Perez (CAERP).
  12. Fatih Guvenen, 2007. "An empirical investigation of labor income processes," IFS Working Papers W07/13, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  13. Fang Yang, 2009. "Consumption over the Life Cycle: How Different is Housing?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 12(3), pages 423-443, July.
  14. repec:aei:rpbook:24949 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Daniel Feenberg & Elisabeth Coutts, 1993. "An introduction to the TAXSIM model," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 189-194.
  16. Santiago Budria Rodriguez & Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Vincenzo Quadrini & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2002. "Updated facts on the U.S. distributions of earnings, income, and wealth," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 2-35.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:issued:08-75. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christian Zimmermann)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.