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Analysis of wealth using micro and macro data: a comparison of the Survey of Consumer Finances and Flow of Funds Accounts

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  • Alice M. Henriques
  • Joanne W. Hsu

Abstract

Researchers use different types of household balance sheet data to study different aspects of lifecycle saving and wealth accumulation behavior. Macro data from the Flow of Funds Accounts (FFA) are produced at a quarterly frequency and are available in a timely manner, but they can only be used to study the behavior of the household sector as a whole. Micro data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) are available every three years and only with a lag, but they can be used to address questions that involve differences in behavior over time and across various types of households. Despite the very different approaches to estimating household net worth, the two data sets show the same general patterns wealth changes over the past twenty-five years. Areas where the FFA and SCF diverge in aggregate levels—in categories such as owner-occupied housing, noncorporate equity, and credit cards—may be explained by methodological decisions applied in the production of the data. Those differences do not fundamentally alter one's perception of household wealth dynamics in the period leading up to and following the Great Recession.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2013-46
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edward Nathan Wolff, 2011. "Recent Trends in Household Wealth, 1983-2009: The Irresistible Rise of Household Debt," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 2(1).
    2. Robert E. Lipsey & Helen Stone Tice, 1989. "The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lips89-1.
    3. Goodman, John Jr. & Ittner, John B., 1992. "The accuracy of home owners' estimates of house value," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 339-357, December.
    4. Jonathan Zinman, 2009. "Where Is The Missing Credit Card Debt? Clues And Implications," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 55(2), pages 249-265, June.
    5. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1996. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1797-1855, December.
    6. Edward N. Wolff, 1998. "Recent Trends in the Size Distribution of Household Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 131-150, Summer.
    7. Brown, Meta & Haughwout, Andrew F. & Lee, Donghoon & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2011. "Do we know what we owe? A comparison of borrower- and lender-reported consumer debt," Staff Reports 523, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, revised 01 Oct 2013.
    8. Donghoon Lee & Wilbert Van der Klaauw, 2010. "An introduction to the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel," Staff Reports 479, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gianluca Violante & Benjamin Moll & Greg Kaplan, 2015. "Monetary Policy According to HANK," 2015 Meeting Papers 1507, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Aboohamidi, Abbas & Chidmi, Benaissa, 2015. "Changes in the Wealth of American Households during the 2007-2009 Financial Crisis in the U.S," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205451, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.

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