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A Rolling Tide: Changes in the Distribution of Wealth in the U.S., 1989-2001

Author

Listed:
  • Arthur B. Kennickell

    (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System)

Abstract

From 1989 to 2001, wealth in real terms increased overall among U.S. families. But characterizing distributional changes is much more complex; it depends on the specific questions asked. For example, there is evidence both from Forbes data on the 400 wealthiest Americans and from the SCF, which explicitly excludes families in the Forbes list, that wealth grew relatively strongly at the very top of the distribution. At the same time, the share of total household wealth held by the Forbes group rose. However, while the point estimate of the share of total wealth held by the wealthiest 1 percent of families, as measured by the SCF, also rose, the change is not statistically significant. In 2001, the division of wealth observed in the SCF attributed about a third each to the wealthiest 1 percent, the next wealthiest 9 percent, and the remaining 90 percent of the population. The paper decomposes wealth holdings and distributional shifts in a variety of other ways. Particular attention is given to families with negative net worth, families of older baby boomers, and African American families.

Suggested Citation

  • Arthur B. Kennickell, 2003. "A Rolling Tide: Changes in the Distribution of Wealth in the U.S., 1989-2001," Others 0311002, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpot:0311002
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 51
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    File URL: http://econwpa.repec.org/eps/othr/papers/0311/0311002.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Arthur B. Kennickell & Annika E. Sunden, 1997. "Pensions, social security, and the distribution of wealth," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1997-55, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    2. Wolff, Edward N, 1996. "International Comparisons of Wealth Inequality," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 42(4), pages 433-451, December.
    3. Erik Hurst & Ming Ching Luoh & Frank P. Stafford, 1998. "The Wealth Dynamics of American Families, 1984-94," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(1), pages 267-338.
    4. John Weicher, 1996. "The Distribution of Wealth," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 650823.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Matteo Iacoviello, 2008. "Household Debt and Income Inequality, 1963-2003," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(5), pages 929-965, August.
    2. Hansen, Gary D. & Hsu, Minchung & Lee, Junsang, 2014. "Health insurance reform: The impact of a Medicare buy-in," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 315-329.
    3. De Nardi, Mariacristina & Giulio , Fella & Yang, Fang, 2016. "Piketty’s Book and Macro Models of Wealth Inequality," Chicago Fed Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    4. Sebastian Leitner, 2015. "Drivers of wealth inequality in euro area countries," Working Paper Reihe der AK Wien - Materialien zu Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft 137, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik.
    5. Fiaschi, Davide & Marsili, Matteo, 2012. "Distribution of wealth and incomplete markets: Theory and empirical evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 243-267.
    6. repec:red:issued:16-340 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Mariacristina De Nardi & Giulio Fella, 2017. "Saving and Wealth Inequality," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 26, pages 280-300, October.
    8. repec:eee:joepsy:v:61:y:2017:i:c:p:39-54 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    wealth distribution; household finances; portfolio choice;

    JEL classification:

    • P - Economic Systems
    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Z - Other Special Topics

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