Wealth Concentration in the United States Using an Expanded Measure of Net Worth Wealth Concentration in the United States Using an Expanded Measure of Net Worth

By Lindsay Jacobs, Elizabeth Llanes, Kevin Moore, Jeffrey P. Thompson, and Alice Henriques Volz

Defined benefit (DB) pensions and Social Security are two important resources for financing retirement that are often excluded from data, resulting in incomplete measures of wealth and representations of household wealth concentration. In this paper, the authors estimate an expanded measure of wealth that includes DB pensions and future Social Security benefits and show how that inclusion affects estimates of wealth inequality in the United States as well as trends over time. They further illustrate the impact Social Security has on these measures by simulating distributions under a scenario in which expected future Social Security Trust Fund shortfalls are addressed through a reduction in benefit payouts.

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