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On the diversity of assets holdings in the United States in 2007 and 2009

Eva Sierminska () and Jacques Silber ()

No 2016-08, LISER Working Paper Series from LISER

Abstract: This paper proposes to apply diversity indices to the study of wealth composition. At the individual level a diversity index like the so-called Gini-Simpson index would then measure the probability that two dollars, drawn randomly from the total wealth of an individual, are allocated to two different types of wealth. Other diversity indices, such as entropy related indices, may be similarly defined when analyzing the composition of wealth. These basic ideas will then be applied to the study of wealth in the United States. The recession which started in the United States in December 2007 has affected numerous families and in many ways. Families have seen an increase in unemployment, had serious difficulties in meeting debt obligation and had to face changing levels of income and wealth, to mention just a few of the problems they had to deal with. Some of the literature examining the effect of the recession on the well-being of households has examined income and wealth levels and inequality and have found that although wealth levels have fallen and inequality has increased the effect has not been uniform across families. In this paper we will investigate the determinants of asset diversity and the impact of life course changes during the period of the Great Recession. We will examine this in the context of financial assets. We use a unique panel data set that provides us with comprehensive household level income and wealth data for 2007 and 2009 for the United States, the Survey of Consumer Finances.

Keywords: diversity; financial assets; Great Recession; United States; wealth (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D14 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016-07
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