Patterns of household income instability were analyzed using panel data from the 1983 and 1986 Surveys of Consumer Finance. The dataset included annual incomes for households for the years 1983 through 1985. Almost two-thirds (64.8%) of households had increases in real income between the first two years and the second two years, but households with heads who were poorly educated, older, self-employed, or who changed from being married to unmarried were at high risk of a substantial drop in real income. Young households had a 25% chance of an income increase of 50% or more. Key Words: income variability, financial planning, risk

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