Working Paper No. 386 | September 2003

Household Wealth, Public Consumption, and Economic Well-Being in the United States

*Preliminary draft. Please do not quote or cite without permission.

Standard official measures of economic well-being are based on money income. The general consensus is that such measures are seriously flawed because they ignore several crucial determinants of well-being. We examine two such determinants--household wealth and public consumption--in the context of the United States. Our findings suggest that the level and distribution of economic well-being is substantially altered when money income is adjusted for wealth or public consumption.

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