Survey of Consumer Finances

The Survey of Consumer Finances collects information on families’ financial situations. It provides an important source of information for analysis at the Federal Reserve and other branches of government. It also contributes to scholarly work at major economic research centers.

The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) is a triennial cross-sectional survey that collects information about families’ balance sheets, pensions, income, and demographic characteristics. The survey uses a standard multistage area-probability design that ensures broad geographic coverage. It also makes an effort to oversample wealthier households.

 It is one of the most widely used datasets for studying American households. The SCF is an important source of data for researchers and policymakers. It provides valuable information on the financial situation of Americans and helps shape policy decisions. The Federal Reserve relies on this data to promote maximum employment, stabilize prices, and moderate systemic risk in the economy.

The SCF is a complex sample survey designed to generalize to the civilian noninstitutional population of the United States. It includes a set of five tables of survey responses and a table of weights. This set of tables contains successive replicates of each household, and is designed to properly account for statistical uncertainty. The SCF also collects detailed asset data that is unique to the survey. The unit of analysis is the primary economic unit (PEU), which consists of an economically dominant individual or couple and all people who depend on them.

Survey of Consumer Finances for year
Survey of Consumer Finances 1

Survey of Consumer Finances for 2024

In 2024, fewer families reported experiencing an increase in their monthly incomes and more experienced a decrease. Meanwhile, their spending rose faster than their incomes, and overall financial well-being declined markedly from its pre-pandemic levels. Consumers cited price increases as the reason for changing their consumption habits. Two-thirds of surveyed consumers declared that they had stopped using or used less of some products due to high prices. More than half of them switched to private-label brands or reduced their savings.

In the case of households that own a car, over a third changed their driving habits to save money. These changes and other factors contributed to the sharp decline in financial well-being reflected in the 2022 results. The SCF is a national, representative sample of household wealth. However, it does not include families with the largest net worth. It also does not interview families living in high-net-worth areas, as the interviewers are unlikely to encounter them.

SCF Results

SCF results are available to the public in three formats: a bulletin article, an interactive chartbook, and a full public dataset with replicate weight files. The latter is particularly useful for analyzing time series with a large number of observations and account for sampling variance using multiple imputation techniques.

The SCF data is made available for use free of charge by the Federal Reserve. However, you must carefully read the codebook and other documentation before interpreting the data. In addition, you must understand the survey design and the statistical assumptions behind SCF estimates.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button