The Hidden Reason for Americans’ Shrinking Wealth

Many Americans learned this weekend that they’ve gotten poorer. “The Typical Household, Now Worth a Third Less,” proclaimed the New York Times, citing a new study sponsored by the Russell Sage Foundation (PDF). Median wealth declined more than 35 percent from 2001 to 2013, the study found, while wealth at the 95th percentile grew 14 percent. We can argue about whether America is entering its next Gilded Age, but these trends are important for another reason: They reveal how vulnerable the average American has become to the swings of one market in particular—housing.

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