Wealth, income, and consumption: a microeconomic approach to a macroeconomic question

Project Summary:

These four researchers will investigate how inequality in the distribution of income and wealth impacts consumption, a major component of economic growth. Specifically, they will create a new dataset that will help them and other researchers explore these questions. They will look at how disparities in income and wealth have affected decisions about consumption and saving since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2009. The results will be important for growth modeling, for determining how inequality affects economic growth, and for understanding the differences in who has benefited from recent patterns of income growth in the economy.


Timothy M. (Tim) Smeeding is the Lee Rainwater Distinguished Professor of Public Affairs and Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was director of the Institute for Research on Poverty from 2008–2014, and was the founding director of the Luxembourg Income Study from 1983–2006.

Smeeding’s recent work has been on social and economic mobility across generations, inequality of income, consumption and wealth, and poverty in national and cross-national contexts.

His books include: “SNAP Matters: How Food Stamps Affect Health and Well Being” (Stanford University Press, 2015); “Monitoring Social Mobility in the 21st Century” (Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 2015); “From Parents to Children: The Intergenerational Transmission of Advantage” (Russell Sage Foundation, 2012); “Persistence, Privilege and Parenting: The Comparative Study of Intergenerational Mobility” (Russell Sage Foundation, 2011); “The Handbook of Economic Inequality” (Oxford University Press, 2009); “Poor Kids in a Rich Country: America's Children in Comparative Perspective” (Russell Sage Foundation, 2003); and “The American Welfare State: Laggard or Leader?” (Oxford University Press, 2010).