Household Saving in the ‘90s: Evidence From Cross-Section Wealth Surveys

Karen Pence and John Sabelhaus, Review of Income and Wealth 45(4), 435-453, December .


This paper uses a series of cross-section surveys to measure how wealth accumulation and active saving rates varied across cohort-groups during the early and mid 1990s. Our estimated rates of saving and wealth change across cohorts show a somewhat more dramatic life-cycle pattern than found in previous studies, in part because we use a new technique, and in part because the cross-section wealth surveys we use oversample the wealthiest families whose behavior dominates aggregate changes. Adjusting the wealth-change rates for bequests and subtracting out the capital gains component of wealth change move the estimates in the direction of results from previous studies, but the biggest changes in that direction result from excluding the top of the wealth distribution in each year.

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