Some U.S. families with heads near retirement did fine from 2007 to 2009 – and members of those families seem to be about as nervous about spending as families that lost heavily during the crisis.
Elizabeth Duke, a Federal Reserve governor, talked about evidence for that conclusion Thursday at a lecture in Richmond, Va., at a lecture organized by the Virginia Association of Economists.
Duke used preliminary 2007 and 2009 data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances to analyze the effects of the crisis on the attitudes of families with heads who were ages 50 to 61 in 2007.
Duke found that 58% of all families lost amount of wealth to about 1 month or more of their usual income between 2007 and 2009, and that 43% lost wealth equal to 6 months of income or more.
But Duke also found that 32% of families increased their wealth by an amount equal to at least 1 month of their usual income, and that 21% enjoyed a gain equal to 6 months or more of their usual income.
Similarly, in families with heads nearing retirement, 49% lost wealth equal to 6 months or more of their usual income, and 22% gained wealth equal to 6 months or more of their usual income.
The families held roughly the same mix of assets in 2007 and 2009, and the changes in wealth seemed to be due mainly to changes in the value of homes, securities and other assets, Duke said.
Economists using traditional economic theories might predict that the families that had suffered big losses would be more cautious and more interested in saving, because of the effect of the losses on household wealth, Duke said, according to a written version of her remarks provided by the Fed.
When Fed researchers actually looked at the survey data, however, they found that the families that gained wealth gave answers that were similar to those given by the families that suffered