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Effects of the Financial Crisis and Great Recession on American Households

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  • Michael D. Hurd
  • Susann Rohwedder

Abstract

In this paper we present evidence from high-frequency data collections dedicated to tracking the effects of the financial crisis and great recession on American households. These data come from surveys that we conducted in the American Life Panel - an Internet survey run by RAND Labor and Population. The first survey was fielded at the beginning of November 2008, immediately following the large declines in the stock market of September and October 2008. The next survey followed three months later in February 2009. Since May 2009 we have collected monthly data on the same households. This paper shows the levels and trends of many of these data which summarize the experience and expectations of households during the recession. We find that the effects of the recession are widespread: between November 2008 and April 2010 about 39 percent of households had either been unemployed, had negative equity in their house or had been in arrears in their house payments. Reductions in spending were common especially following unemployment. On average expectations about stock market prices and housing prices are pessimistic, particularly long-run expectations. Among workers, expectations about becoming unemployed have recovered somewhat from their low point in May 2009 but still remain high. Overall the data suggest that households are not optimistic about their economic futures.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2010. "Effects of the Financial Crisis and Great Recession on American Households," NBER Working Papers 16407, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16407
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. James X. Sullivan, 2008. "Borrowing During Unemployment: Unsecured Debt as a Safety Net," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(2), pages 383-412.
    2. Gruber, Jonathan, 2000. "Cash welfare as a consumption smoothing mechanism for divorced mothers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 157-182, February.
    3. Gruber, Jonathan, 1997. "The Consumption Smoothing Benefits of Unemployment Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 192-205, March.
    4. Julie Agnew & Pierluigi Balduzzi & Annika Sundén, 2003. "Portfolio Choice and Trading in a Large 401(k) Plan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 193-215, March.
    5. 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.
    6. Samuel Bentolila & Andrea Ichino, 2008. "Unemployment and consumption near and far away from the Mediterranean," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 21(2), pages 255-280, April.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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