The Changing Demography of Wealth

Jeffrey Thompson, Federal Reserve Board

Using data from the Federal Reserve Board’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances, this paper explores the intersection of wealth and demographics, focusing on longer-term trends (since 1989) and the recent economic downturn (2007 to 2010). The paper compares trends in asset accumulation (by type), debt, and net worth across income, race, gender, age, and education groups, and describes the changing demographic profile at different parts of the wealth distribution. The rise in housing wealth and then its collapse since 2007 has greatly affected the middle class, especially the younger emerging middle class cohort, and blacks and Latinos. The pension provisions of jobs have also been changing both toward defined contribution (410k) type plans and overall pension coverage is now dropping as post-recession service sector jobs ( the fastest growing segment of employment ) are offering less pension coverage than the manufacturing and construction jobs which have disappeared during the recession.

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Presented in Session 114: The Demography of Inequality: Income, Consumption and Wealth