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Disaggregating the Effect of the Business Cycle on the Distribution of Income

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  • Blank, Rebecca M

Abstract

This paper disaggregates total household income into a complete set of components and studies the comparative cyclicality of these components. The cyclical responsiveness of total household income, wages, hours of work and total labor market income of heads and wives, and transfer income is compared across income, race, sex, and age groups. This provides a picture of the channels by which economic cyclicality produces income change. Significant differences in elasticities are found to exist both between different income components and between different population groups for the same components. The narrowing income distribution in times of high growth occurs primarily because of large elasticities on head's labor market income among the poor. Both wages and hours show evidence of cyclicality. The labor market earnings of women--both wives and household heads--are far less responsive to growth. Cyclicality in transfer income varies enormously between population groups and by type of transfer. Copyright 1989 by The London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by London School of Economics and Political Science in its journal Economica.

Volume (Year): 56 (1989)
Issue (Month): 222 (May)
Pages: 141-63

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Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:56:y:1989:i:222:p:141-63

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  1. Geary, Patrick T & Kennan, John, 1982. "The Employment-Real Wage Relationship: An International Study," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(4), pages 854-71, August.
  2. Rebecca M. Blank & Alan S. Blinder, 1985. "Macroeconomics, Income Distribution, and Poverty," NBER Working Papers 1567, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Blank, Rebecca M, 1989. "Disaggregating the Effect of the Business Cycle on the Distribution of Income," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 56(222), pages 141-63, May.
  4. Altonji, Joseph & Ashenfelter, Orley, 1980. "Wage Movements and the Labour Market Equilibrium Hypothesis," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 47(187), pages 217-45, August.
  5. repec:fth:prinin:150 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Charles M. Beach, 1974. "Cyclical Sensitivity of Aggregate Income Inequality," Working Papers 162, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  7. Lundberg, Shelly, 1985. "The Added Worker Effect," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 11-37, January.
  8. Bils, Mark J, 1985. "Real Wages over the Business Cycle: Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(4), pages 666-89, August.
  9. Thornton, James R & Agnello, Richard J & Link, Charles R, 1978. "Poverty and Economic Growth: Trickle Down Peters Out," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 16(3), pages 385-94, July.
  10. Michael Ransom, 1982. "Estimating Family Labor Supply Models Under Quantity Constraints," Working Papers 530, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  11. Hirsch, Barry T, 1980. "Poverty and Economic Growth: Has Trickle Down Petered Out?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(1), pages 151-58, January.
  12. Mary Jo Bane & David T. Ellwood, 1986. "Slipping into and out of Poverty: The Dynamics of Spells," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(1), pages 1-23.
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