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Inequality and poverty in the United States: the aftermath of the Great Recession

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  • Jeffrey P. Thompson
  • Timothy M. Smeeding
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    Abstract

    This paper explores trends in inequality and poverty using both market and after-tax and transfer income in the period during and after the Great Recession (through 2011). Using market income (or wages), inequality and poverty rose sharply between 2008 and 2010. The primary exception is measures for the top of the distribution; annual wage and income shares of the top one percent dipped in 2008 and 2009. Including taxes and transfers, broad-based inequality measures also fell, and the poverty increase was muted. Tax and transfer policies lowered inequality and poverty, but those policies were not equal across the population. Poverty declined among the elderly, changed little among children, and rose sharply among the working-age. Inequality fell across the total population, but was unchanged among working-age households. Since 2009, as the economy has grown slowly, inequality has risen for all groups, and poverty remains high for the working-age.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2013-51.

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    Date of creation: 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2013-51

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    1. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-71, March.
    2. Wojciech Kopczuk & Emmanuel Saez & Jae Song, 2010. "Earnings Inequality and Mobility in the United States: Evidence from Social Security Data since 1937," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 91-128, February.
    3. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier & Nahid Tabatabai, 2010. "What the Stock Market Decline Means for the Financial Security and Retirement Choices of the Near-Retirement Population," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 161-82, Winter.
    4. Edward Wolff & Ajit Zacharias, 2009. "Household wealth and the measurement of economic well-being in the United States," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 83-115, June.
    5. David Howell, Bert M. Azizoglu, 2011. "Unemployment Benefits and Work Incentives: The U.S. Labor Market in the Great Recession," SCEPA working paper series. SCEPA's main areas of research are macroeconomic policy, inequality and poverty, and globalization. 2011-7, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA), The New School.
    6. Yonatan Ben-Shalom & Robert A. Moffitt & John Karl Scholz, 2011. "An Assessment of the Effectiveness of Anti-Poverty Programs in the United States," NBER Working Papers 17042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Rothstein, Jesse, 2012. "The Labor Market Four Years Into the Crisis: Assessing Structural Explanations," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt2x576316, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
    8. Daniel Feenberg & Elisabeth Coutts, 1993. "An introduction to the TAXSIM model," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 189-194.
    9. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Feng, Shuaizhang & Jenkins, Stephen P. & Larrimore, Jeff, 2008. "Estimating trends in US income inequality using the Current Population Survey: the importance of controlling for censoring," ISER Working Paper Series 2008-25, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    10. Mark W. Frank, 2009. "Inequality And Growth In The United States: Evidence From A New State-Level Panel Of Income Inequality Measures," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(1), pages 55-68, 01.
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