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Public Policy Options to Build Wealth for America

The financial crisis of 2007 and thereafter has taken a toll on family wealth. About $15 trillion (in 2008 dollars) --22.8%--were lost in the first 18 months of the financial crisis which started in the spring of 2007. The loss of household wealth deserves public policy attention. Wealth serves critical economic security functions in an economy that relies heavily on individual initiative, such as the United States. It is a store of future income, in the case of retirement, unemployment, illness or injury which allows families to smooth consumption over their lifetime. Families with sufficient wealth also need not worry about the basic necessities of life and may focus on longer term economic opportunity.

Christian Weller and Amy Helburn describe three goals for public policy to help families build stable and sustainable wealth: greater savings rates, lower costs of building wealth, and less risk exposure. In Working Paper, they highlight a few policy examples in each of these categories.

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