Recent trends in wealth inequality among older Americans in two surveys

TitleRecent trends in wealth inequality among older Americans in two surveys
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsKezdi, G, Lay, M, Weir, DR
JournalJournal of Economics and Social Measurement
KeywordsEducation, net wealth, race disparity, social security wealth, Wealth Inequality

We document changes in wealth inequality across American households with a member aged 55 or older, comparing data in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) with that in the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) between 1998 and 2016. We examine net wealth including housing, financial and nonfinancial assets and debt, without the cash value of insurances, DB pensions or Social Security wealth. We find very similar distributions of net wealth in the two surveys between the 25th and 90th percentiles, but substantially higher wealth in the SCF at the top of the distribution. Both surveys show an increase in wealth inequality between 1998 and 2016, first mostly due to increased wealth at the top, and, after 2012, due to an increase in the share of households with very little wealth as well. Both surveys agree that wealth inequality by education and race, already substantial in 1998, increased further by 2016.

Citation Key12368
PubMed ID35574190
PubMed Central IDPMC9103150