The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) is conducted by NORC and the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) and is the only fully representative source of information on the financial circumstances of U.S. households. The survey collects information about the types and amounts of assets and liabilities that households own as well as data on employment history, pensions, income, and demographic characteristics.
A variety of national statistics provide excellent information on the economy overall, but the average situation tells us little about the state of different types of families. Information on different types of families is more scarce and often provides an incomplete picture. Life in America is always changing, and rarely have so many families’ finances changed as much as they have in the past few years. Now especially, a clear picture of the finances of all types of American families is important. The SCF is an essential tool for making that picture visible.
Analysis based on the SCF is a key input into government policy and consumer protection. Data from the survey are widely used by the Federal Reserve, Congressional committees and government agencies including the Treasury, Justice, and Commerce Departments as well as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, to analyze the financial health of Americans and the institutional structure within which they made their choices. The survey is also an important input into a wide variety of academic research.