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Household Net Worth and Asset Ownership: 1995

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Report Number P70-71


This report presents data on the wealth and asset holdings of U.S. households in 1995.1 The data are from the 1993 panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and represent information collected from February through May 1995.2 The SIPP collects wealth and asset data as a supplement to its core questions about labor force participation, income, demographic characteristics, and program participation.

Two of the most important components of the economic stratification of the U.S. population are income and asset accumulation (wealth). Income is the flow of resources from a job, transfer program, or some other source. Wealth is the level of economic resources that a person or household possesses at any given time. Because the economic well-being of households depends upon both income and wealth, income by itself is an imperfect measure. A household, for example, may be in the top 10 percent of the income distribution, but may be burdened with a large amount of debt. Consequently, examining the components of wealth, such as equity in a home, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, and mutual funds, provides a better understanding of the economic health of households than considering income data alone.3

1 See Appendix A for the definitions of the concepts (for example, net worth) used throughout this report.

2 The sample of households in the SIPP is divided into four interview groups called rotation groups. Each month, one of the four rotation groups is interviewed about the previous 4 months (the reference period). The asset and liability data in this report were collected from the first rotation group in February 1995, and refer to the last day of January 1995; the second rotation group was interviewed in March 1995, and their data refer to February 1995, and so on. As a result, the data presented in this report represent an average of the assets and liabilities of people at the end of January, February, March, and April 1995.

3 For a further discussion of the relationship between wealth and income, see Arthur B. Kennickell, 1999, ‘‘Using Income to Predict Wealth’’ available at: www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/oss/oss2/method.html.


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