Trends in Household Portfolio Composition
We use data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) to explore how household asset portfolios in the United States have evolved from 1989 to 2016. Throughout this period, two key assets―housing and financial market assets―have driven the aggregate household balance sheet evolution. However, aggregates mask great heterogeneity in balance sheet composition across the wealth distribution, and most families hold a relatively small share of assets in financial markets and larger shares in housing and other nonfinancial assets. We also describe the typical life cycle asset accumulation processes among low, middle, and high-income families which―though varying dramatically by level―are quite similar. Finally, we use household balance sheets to describe how financial vulnerability has changed over time.