TRENDS IN HOUSEHOLD WEALTH IN THE UNITED STATES, 1962–83 AND 1983–89

Edward N. Wolff

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Using the 1983 and 1989 Surveys of Consumer Finances, I find evidence of sharply increasing house‐hold wealth inequality over this period. Whereas mean wealth increased by 23 percent in real terms, median wealth grew by only 8 percent. The share of the top one‐half percentile rose by five percentage points, while the wealth of the bottom two quintiles showed an absolute decline. The Gini coefficient increased from 0.80 to 0.84. Almost all the growth in real wealth accrued to the top 20 percent of wealthholders. In contrast, the degree of wealth inequality was almost identical in 1983 as in 1962, and real wealth growth was more evenly distributed across the wealth distribution. There is also evidence that the sharp increase in wealth inequality from 1983 to 1989 was due to a correspondingly sharp rise in income inequality, the increase of stock prices relative to housing prices, and relatively slow inflation.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)143-174
    Number of pages32
    JournalReview of Income and Wealth
    Volume40
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jun 1994

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics and Econometrics

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