Wealth, or net worth, is a key determinant of living standards for American families. Liquid assets help families cope with cash emergencies. Tangible assets like cars, homes, and computers provide people with opportunities and allow them to participate in work, school and community life. Even assets like retirement plans make it easier to make investments in education or start a business. Given wealth’s importance, wide and growing wealth inequalities in many ways surpass rising inequality in wages and income.