Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone is not enough to produce widely shared prosperity.
Home Essential Documents Themes All Documents Authors Glossary Links Contact Us

Wealth Distribution in America

Every three years, the Federal Reserve Board collects detailed financial data from a panel of families, and published several reports. WealthandWant has collected data from one of the resulting studies, Currents and Undercurrents: Changes in the Distribution of Wealth, 1989–2004, by Arthur B. Kennickell (January, 2006), and generated some additional calculations that help illuminate some of the underlying trends.

Two levels of detail are provided. One matches the original report, and shows total wealth, the Bottom 50% (0 to 50th percentile), the Next 40% (50th to 90th), the Next 5% (90th to 95th percentiles), Next 4% (95th to 99th), and the Top 1% (see Wealth 50-40-5-4-1). The other aggregates the first two quantiles* into the Bottom 90%, and the next two quantiles into the Next 9% (see Wealth 90-9-1).

*Quantile is the generic term for groupings of percentiles; others include quintiles, quartiles, deciles and fractiles.

Each of these includes 8 tables. The tables' designations start with either W50 or W90, depending on which level of quantile detail is provided.

Table W90-1 Dollar Holdings and change, by Networth Quantile — 1989 and 2004 | W-50-1
Table W90-2 Corner Percentages: Each Quantile's Share of Aggregate Networth, 1989 and 2004 | W50-2
Table W90-3 Wealth Shares and Percent Change by Networth Quantile — 1989 and 2004 | W50-3
Table W90-4: Dollar Change, Percent Chg and Shares of Dollar Change, by Networth Quantile | W50-4
Table W90-5 Ownership Rates, by Networth Quantile - nonadditive - 1989, 2004 and Point Change | W50-5
Table W90-6 Ownership Rates by Networth Quantile - additive - 1989 and 2004 | W50-6
Table W90-7 Holdings per 1% who hold, by Networth Quantile — 1989 and 2004 | W50-7
Table W90-8 Holdings per 1% who hold - Change and Percent Change, 1989-2004, by Networth Quantile | W50-8

You might start with the W90 series tables, because they're easier on the eye, and consult the W50 tables when you need further detail.

Tables 1, 3, 4 and 5 are drawn directly from Currents and Undercurrents. Table 2 shows the relative importance of each type of wealth and debt. Tables 6, 7 and 8 provide some original analysis you're not likely to find elsewhere.

Go visit the tables yourself (90-9-1 or 50-40-5-4-1), or take the guided tour.

 

 

 

Home
Top of page
Essential Documents
Themes
to email this page to a friend: right click, choose "send"
   
Wealth and Want
www.wealthandwant.com
   
... because democracy alone hasn't yet led to a society in which all can prosper