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

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  • Rebecca Blank

Abstract

This paper disaggregates total household income into a complete set of components and studies the comparative cyclicality of these components to economic growth. Comparisons of the relative responsiveness to GNP growth of wages, hours of work, and total labor market income of heads and wives, and transfer income sources of households are made across income, race, sex and age groups. This provides a picture of the channels by which economic growth 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.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section. in its series Working Papers with number 569.

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Date of creation: May 1985
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Handle: RePEc:pri:indrel:dsp012227mp659

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Keywords: income distribution; business cycle; economic growth; women in the labor market;

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References

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  1. Rebecca M. Blank, 1987. "Disaggregating the Effect of the Business Cycle on the Distribution of Income," NBER Working Papers 2397, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  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. Rebecca M. Blank & Alan S. Blinder, 1985. "Macroeconomics, Income Distribution, and Poverty," NBER Working Papers 1567, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Lundberg, Shelly, 1985. "The Added Worker Effect," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 11-37, January.
  11. Michael Ransom, 1982. "Estimating Family Labor Supply Models Under Quantity Constraints," Working Papers 530, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  12. 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.
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