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

  • Jeffrey P. Thompson
  • Timothy Smeeding
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    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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    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
    Date of revision:
    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.
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    3. 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.
    4. Yonatan Ben-Shalom & Robert A. Moffitt & John Karl Scholz, 2011. "An Assessment of the Effectiveness of Anti-Poverty Programs in the United States," Mathematica Policy Research Reports cfc848ed6ab647bcb38ab47bb, Mathematica Policy Research.
    5. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier & Nahid Tabatabai, 2009. "What the Stock Market Decline Means for the Financial Security and Retirement Choices of the Near-Retirement Population," NBER Working Papers 15435, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. 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.
    7. Richard V. Burkhauser & Shuaizhang Feng & Stephen P. Jenkins & Jeff Larrimore, 2008. "Estimating Trends in US Income Inequality Using the Current Population Survey: The Importance of Controlling for Censoring," NBER Working Papers 14247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. repec:oup:qjecon:v:125:y:2010:i:1:p:91-128 is not listed on IDEAS
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