The concept and measurement of asset poverty: Levels, trends and composition for the U.S., 1983-2001

Robert Haveman, Edward Wolff

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    American prosperity in the second half of the 1980s together with the booming economy of the 1990s created the impression that American households have done well, particularly in terms of wealth acquisition. In this paper, we develop the concept of "asset poverty" as a measure of economic hardship, distinct from and complementary to the more commonly used concept of "income poverty." We define a household with insufficient assets to enable it to meet basic needs (as measured by the income poverty line) for a period of three months to be asset poor. The results reveal that in the face of the large growth in overall assets in the U.S. and a fall in standard income poverty over the period from 1983 to 2001, the level of asset poverty increased from 22.4 to 24.5 percent. We also find that asset poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics are over twice those for whites; that asset poverty rates fall monotonically with both age and education; that they are much higher for renters than homeowners; and that by family type they range from a low of 5 percent for elderly couples to 71 percent for female single parents.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)145-169
    Number of pages25
    JournalJournal of Economic Inequality
    Volume2
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jan 2005

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    assets
    poverty
    trend
    income
    single parent
    basic need
    homeowner
    Poverty
    Assets
    prosperity
    economy
    economics
    Income poverty
    education
    Household

    Keywords

    • Demographics
    • Poverty
    • Wealth

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)

    Cite this

    The concept and measurement of asset poverty : Levels, trends and composition for the U.S., 1983-2001. / Haveman, Robert; Wolff, Edward.

    In: Journal of Economic Inequality, Vol. 2, No. 2, 01.2005, p. 145-169.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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