Skip to content

About the Center for Household Financial Stability

The Center for Household Financial Stability was launched by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in May 2013 to research and strengthen the balance sheets of struggling American families.

The Great Recession has been called a “balance-sheet recession,” and we at the Center believe that balance sheets (what a family saves, owns and owes – in other words, its net worth) have been relatively under-studied but increasingly recognized as essential to the stability of families and the overall performance of the U.S. economy.

Specifically, the Center aims to address three questions:

  1. What is the state of American families’ balance sheets?
  2. What are the economic and social outcomes associated with varying levels of savings, assets and net worth, and why do these matter for families and the economy?
  3. What can researchers, policymakers, community organizations, financial institutions and households do to improve family balance sheets?

The Center’s work includes conducting and publishing research on key balance-sheet issues and organizing research, policy and community forums locally and nationwide to better understand and respond to the balance-sheet issues affecting struggling families and communities.

A basic premise of the Center is that families improve their financial stability through broad-based economic growth, higher net household incomes and, especially, stronger balance sheets. Financially stable families face less economic risk and more economic mobility within and across generations. As financially healthy families spend, save and invest more, the national economy grows, too.

Download an overview of the Center (pdf).