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Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan

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Leveraging Wealth Data to Inform Asset-Building Policy

Wealth plays a pervasive and pernicious role in transmitting inequality. Wealth—assets like savings and financial holdings such as housing—differs from income—wages, salaries, and cash assistance from the government—and is generally more unequally distributed than income. This contributes to widening social inequality, including impacts on educational attainment.

Wealth demonstrably impacts youth development and educational attainment, but the mechanisms resulting in this phenomenon are not yet established. This project leverages the Panel Survey of Income Dynamics to track family wealth, including identifying key opportunities to intervene across childhood and adolescence that could lead to higher educational attainment during adulthood.

The results could inform policies to help more Americans save and build wealth, creating optimal environments for high educational achievement, increasing social mobility, and equalizing opportunity.

Matthew A. Diemer, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Combined Program in Education and Psychology & Educational Studies; Faculty Associate, Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research

Fabian Pfeffer, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
Research Assistant Professor and PSID Co-Investigator, Institute for Social Research

Rashmita Mistry, Ph.D.
Professor, Human Development and Psychology

Aixa Marchand, a Ph.D. candidate
Combined Program in Education & Psychology