How Well Have Middle Class American Families Accumulated Wealth?

Brief

How Well Have Middle Class American Families Accumulated Wealth?

Net Worth over the Life Cycle between 1989 and 2007
December 9, 2009

Abstract

Many commentators have worried about the low savings rates and high debt levels of American families. Does this picture of unbridled consumption and low asset accumulation fit the American family? Did declines in 2008-2009 house prices, stocks, and bonds reinforce stagnating wealth or offset previous growth in wealth? Using data from the 1989, 1998, and 2007 Surveys of Consumer Finances (SCF) to replicate family experiences over the life cycle by following age cohorts, this fact sheet shows that from 1989 to 2007 American families were accumulating wealth at a healthy rate as individuals and families moved through their life cycle.

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