WEALTH HOLDINGS AND POVERTY STATUS IN THE U.S.

Edward N. Wolff

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Families below the poverty line are better off in terms of wealth than income. In 1962, the ratio of mean income between families below and above the poverty line is 0.19 and the ratio of mean wealth is 0.29. The corresponding ratios for 1983 are 0.16 and 0.19. On average, the elderly poor are better off in terms of wealth than the younger poor, particularly relative to their own income. However, the poor have become worse off in terms of wealth between 1962 and 1983, when their real income grew by 6 percent and their real wealth declined by 11 percent. The inclusion of pension and social security wealth in the household portfolio narrows the wealth gap between the poor and non‐poor, particularly for families under 65 years of age. Alternative poverty rates are also calculated based on the inclusion of annuity flows from wealth in household income. The reduction in the poverty rate between 1962 and 1983, from 21 to 15 percent on the basis of the official rate, is considerably lower with these alternative definitions.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)143-165
    Number of pages23
    JournalReview of Income and Wealth
    Volume36
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jun 1990

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics and Econometrics

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