Analysis of Wealth Using Micro and Macro Data: A Comparison of the Survey of Consumer Finances and Flow of Funds Accounts

41 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2013

See all articles by Alice Henriques

Alice Henriques

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Joanne W. Hsu

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Date Written: May 10, 2013

Abstract

Researchers use different types of household balance sheet data to study different aspects of lifecycle saving and wealth accumulation behavior. Macro data from the Flow of Funds Accounts (FFA) are produced at a quarterly frequency and are available in a timely manner, but they can only be used to study the behavior of the household sector as a whole. Micro data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) are available every three years and only with a lag, but they can be used to address questions that involve differences in behavior over time and across various types of households. Despite the very different approaches to estimating household net worth, the two data sets show the same general patterns wealth changes over the past twenty-five years. Areas where the FFA and SCF diverge in aggregate levels — in categories such as owner-occupied housing, noncorporate equity, and credit cards — may be explained by methodological decisions applied in the production of the data. Those differences do not fundamentally alter one's perception of household wealth dynamics in the period leading up to and following the Great Recession.

Keywords: Wealth distribution, Flow of Funds Accounts, Survey of Consumer Finances

JEL Classification: E01, D31

Suggested Citation

Henriques, Alice and Hsu, Joanne W., Analysis of Wealth Using Micro and Macro Data: A Comparison of the Survey of Consumer Finances and Flow of Funds Accounts (May 10, 2013). FEDS Working Paper No. 2013-46. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2340515 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2340515

Alice Henriques

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

Joanne W. Hsu (Contact Author)

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

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