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The Economic Security Index: A New Measure for Research and Policy Analysis

  • Hacker, Jacob S.

    ()

    (Yale University)

  • Huber, Gregory Alain

    ()

    (Yale University)

  • Nichols, Austin

    ()

    (Urban Institute)

  • Rehm, Philipp

    ()

    (Ohio State University)

  • Schlesinger, Mark

    ()

    (Yale University)

  • Valletta, Robert G.

    ()

    (Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco)

  • Craig, Stuart

    (Yale University)

This paper presents the Economic Security Index (ESI), a new, more comprehensive measure of economic insecurity. By combining data from multiple surveys, we create an integrated measure of volatility in available household resources, accounting for fluctuations in income and out-of-pocket medical expenses, as well as financial wealth sufficient to buffer against these shocks. We find that insecurity has risen steadily since the mid-1980s for virtually all subgroups of Americans, albeit with cyclical ups and downs. We also find, however, that there is substantial disparity in the degree to which different groups are exposed to economic risk. As the ESI derives from a data-independent conceptual foundation, it can be measured using different data sources. We find that the degree and disparity by which insecurity has risen is robust across these sources.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6946.

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Length: 56 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Review of Income and Wealth, 2014, 60 (S1)
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6946
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  1. Annamaria Lusardi & Daniel J. Schneider & Peter Tufano, 2011. "Financially Fragile Households: Evidence and Implications," NBER Working Papers 17072, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Fellner, Gerlinde & Sutter, Matthias, 2005. "Causes, consequences, and cures of myopic loss aversion - An experimental investigation," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 171, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  3. Tullio Jappeli & Luigi Pistaferri, 2009. "The Consumption Response to Income Changes," Discussion Papers 08-052, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  4. Bénabou, Roland & Ok, Efe A, 1998. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: the POUM Hypothesis," CEPR Discussion Papers 1955, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  7. Thomas Cusack & Torben Iversen & Philipp Rehm, 2006. "Risks at Work: The Demand and Supply Sides of Government Redistribution," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(3), pages 365-389, Autumn.
  8. Nichols, Austin, 2008. "Trends in Income Inequality, Volatility, and Mobility Risk," IRISS Working Paper Series 2008-10, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.
  9. Agell, Jonas, 1999. "On the Benefits from Rigid Labour Markets: Norms, Market Failures, and Social Insurance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(453), pages F143-64, February.
  10. Gabor Kezdi & Purvi Sevak, 2004. "Economic Adjustment of Recent Retirees to Adverse Wealth Shocks," Working Papers wp075, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  11. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  12. Melvin Stephens, 2002. "Worker Displacement and the Added Worker Effect," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(3), pages 504-537, July.
  13. Melvin Stephens, 2001. "The Long-Run Consumption Effects Of Earnings Shocks," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 28-36, February.
  14. Daniel Kahneman & Jack L. Knetsch & Richard H. Thaler, 1991. "Anomalies: The Endowment Effect, Loss Aversion, and Status Quo Bias," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 193-206, Winter.
  15. Austin Nichols & Melissa M. Favreault, 2008. "The Impact of Changing Earnings Volatility on Retirement Wealth," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2008-14, Center for Retirement Research, revised Dec 2008.
  16. Dickens, William T, 1984. "Differences between Risk Premiums in Union and Nonunion Wages and the Case for Occupational Safety Regulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 320-23, May.
  17. Lars Osberg & Andrew Sharpe, 2005. "How Should We Measure The "Economic" Aspects Of Well-Being? ," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 51(2), pages 311-336, 06.
  18. Hacker, Jacob S., 2008. "The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195335347.
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