October 2015

Comparing Micro and Macro Sources for Household Accounts in the United States: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances

Lisa J. Dettling, Sebastian J. Devlin-Foltz, Jacob Krimmel, Sarah J. Pack, and Jeffrey P. Thompson


Household income, spending, and net worth are key inputs in macroeconomic forecasting and economic research. Macro-level data sources are often used to measure household accounts, but lack important information about heterogeneity across different types of households that can be found in micro-level data sources. This paper compares aggregates computed based on one micro-level data source--the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF)--with macro-level sources of information on household accounts. We find that on most measures, aggregates computed from the SCF line up well with macro-level data sources once we construct comparable series. Our results imply that researchers and policy makers can be confident in making macroeconomic inferences from household-level surveys like the SCF.

Accessible materials (.zip)

Keywords: Income, Spending, Survey of Consumer Finances, Wealth

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17016/FEDS.2015.086

PDF: Full Paper

Back to Top
Last Update: June 19, 2020