chapter  2
19 Pages

A primer on household wealth

Most of us recognize the importance of wealth and income in improving a family’s circumstances and expanding its opportunities. Fewer of us grasp the nuanced differences that distinguish these related concepts. Most discussions treat the two as interchangeable. Even among those who recognize their differences, the attention has usually focused on income at the expense of wealth. Yet, as Lisa Keister argues in Getting Rich:

wealth may be an even more important indicator of well being because it provides both direct financial benefits and other advantages. The family home, for example, provides shelter and other current services to the owner. At the same time, home ownership can be one of the most beneficial investments a family can make.