The Wealth of Wealthholders

76 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2015 Last revised: 25 Mar 2015

See all articles by John Ameriks

John Ameriks

The Vanguard Group, Inc.

Andrew Caplin

New York University (NYU) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Minjoon Lee

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics

Matthew D. Shapiro

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Christopher Tonetti

New York University (NYU)

Date Written: February 2015

Abstract

This paper introduces the Vanguard Research Initiative (VRI), a new panel survey of wealthholders designed to yield high-quality measurements of a large sample of older Americans who arrive at retirement with significant financial assets. The VRI links survey data with a variety of administrative data from Vanguard. The survey features an account-by-account approach to asset measurement and a real-time feedback and correction mechanism that are shown to be highly successful in eliciting accurate measures of wealth. Specifically, the VRI data reflect unbiased and precise estimates of wealth when compared to administrative account data. The VRI sample has characteristics similar to populations meeting analogous wealth and Internet access eligibility conditions in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF). To illustrate the value of the VRI, the paper shows that the relationship between wealth and expected retirement date is very different in the VRI than in the HRS and SCF—mainly because those surveys have so few observations where wealth levels are high enough to finance substantial consumption during retirement.

Suggested Citation

Ameriks, John and Caplin, Andrew and Lee, Minjoon and Shapiro, Matthew D. and Tonetti, Christopher, The Wealth of Wealthholders (February 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w20972. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2572131

John Ameriks (Contact Author)

The Vanguard Group, Inc. ( email )

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Andrew Caplin

New York University (NYU) - Department of Economics ( email )

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Minjoon Lee

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics ( email )

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Matthew D. Shapiro

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics ( email )

and Survey Research Center
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Christopher Tonetti

New York University (NYU) ( email )

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New York, NY 10003-711
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HOME PAGE: http://www.christophertonetti.com/

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