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Income inequality and redistribution in the aftermath of the 2007-2007 crisis: the US case

Listed author(s):
  • Vanda Almeida

This paper provides a detailed empirical assessment of the evolution of income inequality and the redistributive effects of the tax and transfer system following the 2007-2008 crisis. It focuses on the US case, drawing on data from the Current Population Survey for the period 2007-2012. Contrary to most existing studies, it uses of a wide range of inequality indicators and looks in detail at several sections of the income distribution, allowing for a clearer picture of the heterogeneous consequences of the crisis. Furthermore, it analyses the contribution of different types of taxes and transfers, beyond the overall cushioning effect of the system, which allows for a more refined assessment of its effectiveness. Results show that although the crisis implied income losses across the whole income distribution, the burden was disproportionately born by low to middle income groups. Income losses experienced by richer households were relatively modest and transitory, while those experienced by poorer households were not only strong but also highly persistent. The redistributive system had a crucial role in taming the increase in income inequality in the immediate aftermath of the crisis, and during the GR years, particularly cash transfers. After 2010, however, its effect became weaker and income inequality experienced a new surge. The findings of this paper contribute to a better understanding of the distributional consequences of aggregate crises and the role of tax and transfer policies in stabilising the income distribution in a crisis aftermath.

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File URL: ftp://ftp.dondena.unibocconi.it/WorkingPapers/Dondena_WP096.pdf
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Paper provided by "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi in its series Working Papers with number 096.

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Length: 63 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2016
Handle: RePEc:don:donwpa:096
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  1. Jonathan Heathcote & Fabrizio Perri & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "Unequal We Stand: An Empirical Analysis of Economic Inequality in the United States: 1967-2006," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(1), pages 15-51, January.
  2. Immervoll, Herwig & Levy, Horacio & Lietz, Christine & Mantovani, Daniela & O'Donoghue, Cathal & Sutherland, Holly & Verbist, Gerlinde, 2005. "Household Incomes and Redistribution in the European Union: Quantifying the Equalising Properties of Taxes and Benefits," IZA Discussion Papers 1824, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Larrimore, Jeff & Simon, Kosali I., 2012. "A "Second Opinion" on the Economic Health of the American Middle Class," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 65(1), pages 7-32, March.
  4. Jenkins, Stephen P, 1995. "Accounting for Inequality Trends: Decomposition Analyses for the UK, 1971-86," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 62(245), pages 29-63, February.
  5. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2009. "Quantitative Macroeconomics with Heterogeneous Households," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 319-354, May.
  6. Marianne Bitler & Hilary Hoynes, 2016. "The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same? The Safety Net and Poverty in the Great Recession," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(S1), pages 403-444.
  7. Jeff Larrimore & Richard V. Burkhauser & Philip Armour, 2013. "Accounting for Income Changes over the Great Recession (2007-2010) Relative to Previous Recessions: The Importance of Taxes and Transfers," NBER Working Papers 19699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri & Luigi Pistaferri & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "Cross Sectional Facts for Macroeconomists," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(1), pages 1-14, January.
  9. Thomas Hellebrandt, 2014. "Income Inequality Developments in the Great Recession," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 644, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  10. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2013. "Top Incomes and the Great Recession: Recent Evolutions and Policy Implications," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 61(3), pages 456-478, August.
  11. Tomas Hellebrandt, 2014. "Income Inequality Developments in the Great Recession," Policy Briefs PB14-3, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  12. Kakwani, Nanok C, 1977. "Measurement of Tax Progressivity: An International Comparison," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(345), pages 71-80, March.
  13. Fabrizio Perri & Joe Steinberg, 2012. "Inequality and redistribution during the Great Recession," Economic Policy Paper 12-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  14. Oh, Hyunseung & Reis, Ricardo, 2012. "Targeted transfers and the fiscal response to the great recession," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(S), pages 50-64.
  15. Caminada, Koen & Goudswaard, Kees & Wang, Chen, 2012. "Disentangling income inequality and the redistributive effect of taxes and transfers in 20 LIS countries over time," MPRA Paper 42350, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  16. Shorrocks, A F, 1982. "Inequality Decomposition by Factor Components," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 193-211, January.
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