June 2012

The Other, Other Half: Changes in the Finances of the Least Wealthy 50 Percent, 2007-2009

Arthur B. Kennickell


In discussions of household wealth, it is not surprising that discussion often tends to focus on the upper half of the wealth distribution: According to the 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), that group held 97.5 percent of all directly owned household wealth. This paper investigates the wealth dynamics of the lower half of the distribution using data from the 2007- 2009 SCF panel to examine the degree of distributional mobility among this group, the demographic characteristics associated with such change and the role of initial portfolio allocation. It also provides information from earlier SCFs and the 2010 SCF to put the results in perspective.

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Keywords: Wealth distribution, Great Recession

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Last Update: July 10, 2020