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Income Transfers and Assets of the Poor

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  • James P. Ziliak

    (University of Kentucky)

Abstract

Contrary to the predictions of the standard life-cycle model, many low-lifetime-income households accumulate little wealth relative to their incomes compared to households with high lifetime income. I use data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and a correlated random-effects generalized-method-of-moments estimator to decompose the rich-poor gaps in wealth-to-permanent-income ratio into the portions attributable to differences in characteristics such as labor market earnings, income uncertainty, observed demographics, and the utilization of transfer programs which may have stringent income and liquid-asset tests, and those attributable to differences in the estimated coefficients on the respective characteristics. The results suggest that wealth-to-permanent-income ratios are increasing in permanent labor income and income uncertainty, but that transfer income, with or without asset tests, discourages liquid-asset accumulation. The decompositions indicate that most of the rich-poor wealth gap is attributable to differences in average characteristics and not coefficients. The leading factor driving the gap between the rich and poor in the ratio of liquid wealth to permanent income is asset-tested transfer income, whereas the leading factor driving the gap in the ratio of net worth to permanent income is labor-market earnings. © 2003 President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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  • James P. Ziliak, 2003. "Income Transfers and Assets of the Poor," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(1), pages 63-76, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:85:y:2003:i:1:p:63-76
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    Cited by:

    1. Yunju Nam, 2008. "Welfare Reform and Asset Accumulation: Asset Limit Changes, Financial Assets, and Vehicle Ownership," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 89(1), pages 133-154.
    2. James X. Sullivan, 2006. "Welfare Reform, Saving, and Vehicle Ownership: Do Asset Limits and Vehicle Exemptions Matter?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(1).
    3. Hardy Hulley & Rebecca Mckibbin & Andreas Pedersen & Susan Thorp, 2013. "Means-Tested Public Pensions, Portfolio Choice and Decumulation in Retirement," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 89(284), pages 31-51, March.
    4. Erik Hurst & James P. Ziliak, 2006. "Do Welfare Asset Limits Affect Household Saving?: Evidence from Welfare Reform," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(1).
    5. Mark F. Owens & Charles L. Baum, 2012. "The effects of welfare vehicle asset rules on vehicle assets," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(13), pages 1603-1619, May.
    6. Italo López García & Andrés Otero, 2017. "The Effects of Means-tested, Noncontributory Pensions on Poverty and Well-being: Evidence from the Chilean Pension Reforms," Working Papers wp358, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    7. Katie Fitzpatrick, 2015. "Does “Banking the Unbanked” Help Families to Save? Evidence from the United Kingdom," Journal of Consumer Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(1), pages 223-249, March.
    8. Peter R. Mueser & Colleen M. Heflin & Jacob M. Cronin, 2015. "The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Asset Limit: Reports of Its Death May Be Exaggerated," Working Papers 1506, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
    9. Mário Centeno & Álvaro Novo, 2009. "Reemployment wages and UI liquidity effect: a regression discontinuity approach," Portuguese Economic Journal, Springer;Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestao, vol. 8(1), pages 45-52, April.
    10. Mário Centeno & Álvaro A. Novo, 2014. "Do Low-Wage Workers React Less to Longer Unemployment Benefits? Quasi-Experimental Evidence," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 76(2), pages 185-207, April.
    11. Gittleman Maury, 2011. "Medicaid and Wealth: A Re-Examination," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-25, November.
    12. Colleen M. Heflin & James P. Ziliak, 2008. "Food Insufficiency, Food Stamp Participation, and Mental Health," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 89(3), pages 706-727.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

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