Wealth of Asian families broken out for the first time in Fed’s Survey of Consumer Finances
The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) is a tri-annual survey sponsored by the Federal Reserve Board and conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago for assessing and analyzing family wealth, income, and financial well-being across race and ethnicity. The analysis based on the SCF is a key input into government policy and consumer protection and also serves as an important input into a wide variety of academic research. Past surveys could not reliably estimate the wealth, or net worth, of Asian families due to a small number of minority families interviewed by the survey. For the first time, the Fed’s latest publication (2019-2022) breaks out wealth for Asian families because of oversampling of non-White participants.
The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) is a tri-annual survey sponsored by the Federal Reserve Board and conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago and is a representative source of information on the financial health of U.S. households. It is one of the main data sources in the U.S. for assessing and analyzing family wealth, income, and financial well-being across race and ethnicity.
Why the Survey of Consumer Finances matters
Per NORC, the analysis based on the SCF is a key input into government policy and consumer protection. The data inform programs and policies regarding the financial health of Americans. The survey is also an important input into a wide variety of academic research.
Data from the survey are widely used by a variety of departments and committees, including:
- The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
- The U.S. Congress
- Department of the Treasury
- Department of Justice
- Department of Commerce
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Wealth of Asian families
Past surveys could not reliably estimate the wealth, or net worth, of Asian families due to a small number of minority families interviewed for the survey. For the first time, the Fed’s latest publication (2019-2022) breaks out wealth for Asian families because of oversampling of non-White participants. The survey finds Asian families to have high median and mean wealth at $536,000 and $1,826,900, respectively. These figures should be viewed with caution as the survey has limitations: participation in the survey is voluntary and consists of roughly 7,000 selected families (up from 6,000), the survey is not offered in Asian languages where 30% of the Asian alone population do not speak English very well, and the survey uses a dual frame design that over-sample wealthy participants.
The Asian population in the U.S. is not homogeneous and faces high and increasing wealth inequality per the Center for American Progress, an independent and non-partisan policy institute. While the median and mean figures are useful statistics, they do not tell much about the distribution of wealth of Asian families. The survey needs to do more to adequately capture a sizeable Asian population who are not proficient in English and better represent the diverse ethnicity of Asian families (there are more than 50 Asian ethnic groups in the U.S.).
Wealth disparities across race
The latest publication also shows continued disparities in wealth across families of different races in 2022. The median wealth of Asian families was nearly twice that of White families, while the median wealth of Black and Hispanic families were only 15% and 20% of White families, respectively. The other remaining families (a diverse group that includes American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, other race, and those who are more than one racial identification) had median wealth similar to Black or Hispanic families.
Median (mid-point), mean (average) wealth by race
- All families: $192,000 median, $1,063,700 mean
- Asian families: $536,000 median, $1,826,900 mean
- White families: $285,000 median, $1,367,200 mean
- Other remaining families: $62,900 median, $389,400 mean
- Hispanic families: $61,600 median, $227,500 mean
- Black families: $44,900 median, $211,500 mean
Per the survey, the mean wealth was much higher than the median as the mean wealth is highly influenced by a small number of very rich families. These very rich families tend to be comprised disproportionately of White and Asian families.
Need for inclusive and disaggregated data
Participation in the SCF is voluntary. Families can have a voice in economic policy as a survey participant. Go to the survey participant details at NORC.
The 2022 Survey of Consumer Finances (Federal Reserve)
Greater Wealth, Greater Uncertainty: Changes in Racial Inequality in the Survey of Consumer Finances (Federal Reserve)
About the Survey of Consumer Finances (NORC)
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