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The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth

There is probably no concept other than saving for which U.S. official agencies issue annual estimates that differ by more than a third, as they have done for net household saving, or for which reputable scholars claim that the correct measure is close to ten times the officially published one. Yet despite agreement among economists and policymakers on the importance of this measure, huge inconsistencies persist.

Contributors to this volume investigate ways to improve aggregate and sectoral saving and investment estimates and analyze microdata from recent household wealth surveys. They provide analyses of National Income and Product Account (NIPA) and Flow-of-Funds measures and of saving and survey-based wealth estimates. Conceptual and methodological questions are discussed regarding long-term trends in the U.S. wealth inequality, age-wealth profiles, pensions and wealth distribution, and biases in inferences about life-cycle changes in saving and wealth. Some new assessments are offered for investment in human and nonhuman capital, the government contribution to national wealth, NIPA personal and corporate saving, and banking imputation.

Table of Contents

Prefatory Note
Introduction by Robert E. Lepsey and Helen Stone Tice
1. Present NIPA Saving Measures: Their Characteristics and Limitations
Thomas M. Holloway
Comment: Paul Wachtel
2. Measuring Household Saving: Recent Experience from the Flow-of-Funds Perspective
John F. Wilson, James L. Freund, Frederick O. Yohn, Jr., and Walther Lederer
Comment: George M. von Furstenberg
3. Flow-of-Funds and National Income and Product Account Savings Estimates in Latin America
Clark W. Reynolds and Wayne Camard
Comment: Nathaniel H. Leff
4. Patric H. Hendershott and Joe Peek
Comment: Frank de Leeuw
5. The Accumulation of Human and Nonhuman Capital, 1948-84
Dale W. Jorgenson and Barbara M. Fraumeni
Comment: Sherwin Rosen
6. Government Saving, Capital Formation, and Wealth in the United States, 1947-85
Michael J. Boskin, Marc S. Robinson, and Alan M. Huber
Comment: Robert Eisner
7. The Theory and Measurement of the Nominal Output of Banks, Sectoral Rates of Savings, and Wealth in the National Accounts
Thomas K. Rymes
Comment: Anna J. Schwartz
Reply: Thomas K. Rymes
8. World Payments Imbalances and U.S. Statistics
Stephen Taylor
Comment: Michael P. Dooley
9. Year-Apart Estimates of Household Net Worth from the Survey of Income and Program Participation
John M. McNeil and Enrique J. Lamas
Comment: Martin H. David
10. Survey Estimates of Wealth: An Assessment of Quality
Richard T. Curtin, F. Thomas Juster, and James N. Morgan
Comment: Eugene Smolensky
11. Using Panel Data to Assess the Bias in Cross-sectional Inferences of Life-Cycle Changes in the Level and Composition of Household Wealth
Nancy Ammon Jianakoplos, Paul L. Menchik, and F. Owen Irvine
Comment: B. K. Atrostic
12. The Wealth of the Aged and Nonaged, 1984
Daniel B. Radner
Comment: Marilyn Moon
13. Pension Wealth, Age-Wealth Profiles, and the Distribution of Net Worth
Ann A. McDermed, Robert L. Clark, and Steven G. Allen
Comment: Cordelia W. Reimers
14. The Importance of Gifts and Inheritances among the Affluent
Michael D. Hurd and B. Gabriela Mundaca
Comment: Denis Kessler
15. Long-Term Trends in U.S. Wealth Inequality: Methodological Issues and Results
Edward N. Wolff and Marcia Marley
Comment: Robert B. Avery
List of Contributors
Author Index
Subject Index

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