The authors use multiple waves of the triennial Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) from 1989 to 2013 to examine the composition of the asset portfolios of young households whose head of household is between 18 and 41 years of age. The focus is on households' decisions to hold different types of assets, including both financial assets (e.g., bank accounts, stocks, and retirement accounts) and nonfinancial assets (e.g., residential real estate, businesses, and automobiles).
Postsecondary education costs in the United States today are rising with an increasing shift from societal responsibility to individual burden, thereby driving greater student borrowing. Evidence suggests that (i) such student debt may have undesirable educational effects and potentially jeopardize household balance sheets and (ii) student loans may better support educational attainment and economic mobility if accompanied by other, non-repayable financial awards.
The authors investigate recent trends in the financial circumstances of young adults using data from the triennial Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) from 2001 to 2013. They examine trends in young adults' net worth, break down the composition into specific assets and liabilities, and describe young adults' experiences with credit markets.
Understanding the balance sheets of today's young adults"”particularly the factors that set them on a path to financial security through asset diversification and accumulation"”lends some insight into the balance sheets they will have when they are older. This study uses panel data from the Census Bureau's 1996 Survey of Income and Program Participation to investigate the acquisition of a savings account as a gateway to asset diversification and accumulation for young adults.