Fabian T. Pfeffer photo

Measuring wealth and wealth inequality: Comparing two US surveys

Publication Abstract

Pfeffer, Fabian T., Robert F. Schoeni, A. Kennickell, and P. Andreski. 2016. "Measuring wealth and wealth inequality: Comparing two US surveys." Journal of Economic and Social Measurement, 41(2): 103-120.

Household wealth and its distribution are topics of broad public debate and increasing scholarly interest. We compare the relative strength of two of the main data sources used in research on the wealth holdings of U.S. households, the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), by providing a description and explanation of differences in the level and distribution of wealth captured in these two surveys. We identify the factors that account for differences in average net worth but also show that estimates of net worth are similar throughout most of the distribution. Median net worth in the SCF is 6% higher than in the PSID and the largest differences between the two surveys are concentrated in the 1-2 percent wealthiest households, leading to a different view of wealth concentration at the very top but similar results for wealth inequality across most of the distribution.

10.3233/JEM-160421

ISBN: 0747-9662

PMCID: PMC5145259. (Pub Med Central)

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