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County Characteristics and Poverty Spell Length


  • Andrew Grodner
  • John A. Bishop
  • Thomas J. Kniesner


Our research examines how individual and community factors influence the average length of poverty spells. We measure local economic conditions by the county unemployment rate and neighborhood spillover effects by the racial makeup and poverty rate of the county. We find that moving an individual from one standard deviation above the mean poverty rate to one standard deviation below the mean poverty rate (from the inner city to the suburbs) lowers the average poverty spell by 20–25 percent, this is equal in magnitude to the effect of changing the household head from female to male. Finally, we find that when we control for the demographic, human capital, and county level effects the conditional effect for high school graduates is only two months (85 percent smaller than the unconditional effect), black poverty spells are about eight months (half of the unconditional effect), and female headed households increase length of spells by about eight months (80 percent of the unconditional effect).

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Grodner & John A. Bishop & Thomas J. Kniesner, 2007. "County Characteristics and Poverty Spell Length," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 53(1), pages 19-44.
  • Handle: RePEc:aeq:aeqaeq:v53_y2007_i1_q1_p19-44

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Grodner, Andrew & Kniesner, Thomas J. & Bishop, John A., 2011. "Social Interactions in the Labor Market," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 6(4), pages 265-366, September.

    More about this item


    income mobility; poverty; neighborhood effect; PSID;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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