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Increases in Wealth among the Elderly in the Early 1990s: How Much is Due to Survey Design?

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  • Susann Rohwedder
  • Steven J. Haider
  • Michael Hurd

Abstract

The Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old (AHEAD) study shows a large increase in reported total wealth between 1993 and 1995. Such an increase is not found in other US household surveys around that period. This paper examines one source of this difference. We find that in AHEAD 1993 ownership rates of stocks, CDs, bonds, and checking and saving accounts were under-reported, resulting in under-measurement of wealth in 1993, and a substantial increase in wealth from 1993 to 1995. The explanation for the under-reporting is a combination of question sequence and wording in the AHEAD survey instrument.

Suggested Citation

  • Susann Rohwedder & Steven J. Haider & Michael Hurd, 2004. "Increases in Wealth among the Elderly in the Early 1990s: How Much is Due to Survey Design?," NBER Working Papers 10862, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10862
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    1. Arthur B. Kennickell & Martha Starr-McCluer & Annika E. Sunden, 1997. "Family Finance in the U.S.: Recent Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), vol. 83(1), pages .1-24, January.
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    1. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John B. Jones, 2010. "Why Do the Elderly Save? The Role of Medical Expenses," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(1), pages 39-75, February.
    2. John Bailey Jones & Aaron Steelman, 2019. "Lifetime Medical Spending of Retirees," Richmond Fed Economic Brief, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue May.
    3. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 2011. "Family Status Transitions, Latent Health, and the Post-Retirement Evolution of Assets," NBER Chapters, in: Explorations in the Economics of Aging, pages 23-69, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. James Poterba & Steven Venti & David Wise, 2011. "The Composition and Drawdown of Wealth in Retirement," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 95-118, Fall.
    5. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2016. "Medicaid Insurance in Old Age," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(11), pages 3480-3520, November.
    6. Margherita Borella & Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French, 2018. "Who Receives Medicaid in Old Age? Rules and Reality," Fiscal Studies, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 39(1), pages 65-93, March.
    7. Gan, Li & Gong, Guan & Hurd, Michael & McFadden, Daniel, 2015. "Subjective mortality risk and bequests," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 188(2), pages 514-525.
    8. Lumsdaine, Robin L. & Exterkate, Anneke, 2013. "How survey design affects self-assessed health responses in the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE)," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 299-307.
    9. Siha Lee & Kegon T. K. Tan, 2019. "Bequest Motives and the Social Security Notch," Working Papers 2019-061, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    10. Lee M. Lockwood, 2018. "Incidental Bequests and the Choice to Self-Insure Late-Life Risks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(9), pages 2513-2550, September.
    11. Börsch-Supan, A. & Härtl, K. & Leite, D.N., 2016. "Social Security and Public Insurance," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, in: Piggott, John & Woodland, Alan (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 781-863, Elsevier.
    12. Umesh Ghimire, 2020. "The Impact of Health on Wealth: Empirical Evidence," Working papers 2020-19, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    13. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 2011. "Were They Prepared for Retirement? Financial Status at Advanced Ages in the HRS and AHEAD Cohorts," NBER Chapters, in: Investigations in the Economics of Aging, pages 21-69, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Pashchenko, Svetlana, 2013. "Accounting for non-annuitization," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 53-67.
    15. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones & Rory McGee, 2021. "Why Do Couples and Singles Save During Retirement?," Richmond Fed Economic Brief, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, vol. 21(09), pages 1-65, May.
    16. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 2015. "What Determines End-of-Life Assets? A Retrospective View," NBER Chapters, in: Insights in the Economics of Aging, pages 127-157, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. James Poterba & Steven Venti & David A. Wise, 2013. "Health, Education, and the Postretirement Evolution of Household Assets," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(4), pages 297-339.
    18. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2015. "Couples' and Singles’ Savings After Retirement," Working Papers wp322, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    19. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2010. "The Effects of Medicaid and Medicare Reforms on the Elderly’s Savings and Medical Expenditures," Working Papers wp236, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    20. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 2014. "The Nexus of Social Security Benefits, Health, and Wealth at Death," NBER Chapters, in: Discoveries in the Economics of Aging, pages 159-182, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones & Rory McGee & Rachel Rodgers, 2020. "Medical Spending, Bequests, and Asset Dynamics around the Time of Death," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, vol. 4, pages 135-157.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • C42 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Survey Methods
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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