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Wealth Levels, Wealth Inequality, and the Great Recession

June 23, 2014

In a new Recession Brief for the Recession Trends initiative, Fabian T. Pfeffer (University of Michigan), RSF president Sheldon Danziger, and Robert F. Schoeni (University of Michigan) explore the extent to which the Great Recession altered the level and distribution of American families’ wealth, looking at the period between 2007 and 2013. While the Recession had a major impact on the net worth of families across the socioeconomic spectrum, it disproportionately affected households at the bottom of the wealth distribution. These households lost the largest share of their total wealth. As a result, wealth inequality in the US has been significantly exacerbated since the onset of the Recession. As of the end of 2013, the authors note that there have been few signs of significant recovery from the downturn.

The Recession Trends initiative is an ongoing collaboration between the Russell Sage Foundation and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality that monitors the social and economic fallout of the ongoing downturn. Included in this initiative is a comprehensive series of up-to-date Recession Briefs exploring the effects of the downturn on wealth, consumption, the labor market, housing, poverty, the safety net, health, education, crime, attitudes, and a variety of other key domains. The authors of these briefs are the leading experts in their fields.

Click here to download the Recession Brief. Click here to visit the Recession Trends website.