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The Rising Tide Lifts...?

  • Richard B. Freeman

To what extent did the economic boom of the 1990s-early 2000s improve the well-being of persons in the bottom rungs of the income distribution? This paper uses a pooled cross-state time series regression design to estimate the effect of earnings, unemployment, and inequality on poverty in the boom. I find that the tight labor market reduced poverty substantively, gainsaying the gloom that developed in the 1980s about the effect of economic growth on the less advantaged; and that socially undesirable behaviour also fell in the period, potentially due in part to the boom.. While the rising tide of economic progress can lift many boats, however, around 6-8% of Americans cannot be so helped, and thus constitute a relatively long term poverty population. Moreover, the level of the tide needed to improve the conditions of the less advantaged is a 4-5% unemployment rate, not the 6-6.5% unemployment once viewed as the NAIRU.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8155.

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Date of creation: Mar 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8155
Note: LS
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  1. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ember, Rudolf, 2001. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 259-83, April.
  2. David M. Cutler & Lawrence F. Katz, 1991. "Macroeconomic Performance and the Disadvantaged," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 1-74.
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