Household wealth, public consumption and economic well-being in the United States

Edward N. Wolff, Ajit Zacharias, Asena Caner

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Standard official measures of household economic well-being in several countries are based on money income. The general consensus is that such measures are limited because they ignore certain crucial determinants of well-being. We examine two such determinants - household wealth and public consumption - in the context of the US. Our findings suggest that the level and distribution of economic well-being is substantially altered when money income is adjusted for wealth or public consumption. Over the 1989-2000 period, median well-being appears to increase faster when these adjustments are made than when standard money income is used. Adding imputed rent and annuity from household wealth to household income increases measured inequality, while adding public consumption reduces it. However, all three measures show about the same rise in inequality over the period.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1073-1090
    Number of pages18
    JournalCambridge Journal of Economics
    Issue number6
    StatePublished - Nov 2005


    • Household wealth
    • Inequality
    • Living standards
    • Public consumption

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics and Econometrics


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