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Recent Trends in Household Wealth in the United States-- Rising Debt and the Middle-Class Squeeze--An Update to 2007

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  • Edward N. Wolff

Abstract

I find here that the early and mid-aughts (2001 to 2007) witnessed both exploding debt and a consequent "middle-class squeeze." Median wealth grew briskly in the late 1990s. It grew even faster in the aughts, while the inequality of net worth was up slightly. Indebtedness, which fell substantially during the late 1990s, skyrocketed in the early and mid-aughts; among the middle class, the debt-to-income ratio reached its highest level in 24 years. The concentration of investment-type assets generally remained as high in 2007 as during the previous two decades. The racial and ethnic disparity in wealth holdings, after stabilizing throughout most of the 1990s, widened in the years between 1998 and 2001, but then narrowed during the early and mid-aughts. Wealth also shifted in relative terms, away from young households (particularly those under age 45) and toward those in the 55–74 age group. Projections to July 2009, made on the basis of changes in stock and housing prices, indicate 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 N. Wolff, 2010. "Recent Trends in Household Wealth in the United States-- Rising Debt and the Middle-Class Squeeze--An Update to 2007," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_589, Levy Economics Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_589
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    Cited by:

    1. Setterfield, Mark & Kim, Yun K., 2016. "Debt servicing, aggregate consumption, and growth," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 22-33.
    2. Ashwani Saith, 2011. "Forum 2011," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 42(1), pages 70-86, January.
    3. Pivato, Marcus, 2011. "A fair pivotal mechanism for nonpecuniary public goods," MPRA Paper 34525, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Livio Di Matteo, 2016. "Wealth Distribution and the Canadian Middle Class: Historical Evidence and Policy Implications," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 42(2), pages 132-151, June.
    5. Jon Wisman, 2013. "The Growth Trap, Ecological Devastation, and the Promise of Guaranteed Employment," Challenge, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 56(2), pages 53-78.
    6. Gordon, Grey, 2017. "Optimal bankruptcy code: A fresh start for some," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 123-149.
    7. Luik, Marc-André & Steinhardt, Max Friedrich, 2016. "Immigrant-native differences in stockholding – The role of cognitive and non-cognitive skills," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(PA), pages 103-119.
    8. Jahan Dideh, Mahsa, 2016. "Essays on public economics," Other publications TiSEM 955f607d-b1ac-4680-b8ff-6, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    9. Till Treeck, 2014. "Did Inequality Cause The U.S. Financial Crisis?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(3), pages 421-448, July.
    10. Lorenz Kueng, 2014. "Tax News: The Response of Household Spending to Changes in Expected Taxes," NBER Working Papers 20437, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Marre, Alexander W., 2014. "Rural and Urban Differences in Household Wealth Accumulation: What Role Do Demographics, Wages and Property Values Play?," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170473, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    12. Vasiliy A. Anikin & Yulia P. Lezhnina & Svetlana V. Mareeva & Ekaterina D. Slobodenyuk & Nataliya N. Tikhonovà, 2016. "Income Stratification: Key Approaches and Their Application to Russia," HSE Working papers WP BRP 02/PSP/2016, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    13. repec:mes:challe:v:58:y:2015:i:3:p:197-221 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Favilukis, Jack, 2013. "Inequality, stock market participation, and the equity premium," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(3), pages 740-759.
    15. Michael D. Carr & Arjun Jayadev, 2015. "Relative Income and Indebtedness: Evidence from Panel Data," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 61(4), pages 759-772, December.
    16. Rahman, Sharezan & Masih, Mansur, 2014. "Increasing household debts and its relation to GDP, interest rate and house price: Malaysia’s perspective," MPRA Paper 62365, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    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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