IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/9993.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

On the Welfare Consequences of the Increase in Inequality in the United States

Author

Listed:
  • Dirk Krueger
  • Fabrizio Perri

Abstract

We investigate the welfare consequences of the stark increase in wage and earnings inequality in the US over the last 30 years. Our data stems from the Consumer Expenditure Survey, which is the only US data set that contains information on wages, hours worked, earnings and consumption for the same cross section of US households. We first document that, while the cross-sectional variation in wages and disposable earnings has significantly increased, the overall dispersion in consumption has not significantly changed. We also show that households at the bottom of the consumption distribution have increased their working hours to a larger extent than the rest of the population. In order to assess the magnitude and the incidence of the welfare consquences of these trends we stimate stochastic processes for earnings, consumption and leisure that are consistent with observed cross-sectional variability (both within and between education groups) and with household mobility patterns. In a standard lifetime utility framework, using consumption and leisure processes, as opposed to earnings processes, results in fairly robust estimates of these consequences. We find that about 60 percent of US households face welfare losses and that the size of these losses ranges from one to six percent of lifetime consumption for different groups.

Suggested Citation

  • Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2003. "On the Welfare Consequences of the Increase in Inequality in the United States," NBER Working Papers 9993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9993
    Note: EFG
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9993.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jesus Fernández-Villaverde & Dirk Krueger, 2007. "Consumption over the Life Cycle: Facts from Consumer Expenditure Survey Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(3), pages 552-565, August.
    2. Tauchen, George & Hussey, Robert, 1991. "Quadrature-Based Methods for Obtaining Approximate Solutions to Nonlinear Asset Pricing Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(2), pages 371-396, March.
    3. Cogley, Timothy, 2002. "Idiosyncratic risk and the equity premium: evidence from the consumer expenditure survey," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 309-334, March.
    4. Alan Greenspan, 1996. "Opening remarks," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 1-5.
    5. Dirk Kreuger & Fabrizio Perri, 2002. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality? Evidence and Theory," Working Papers 02-15, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
    6. Nelson, J.A., 1993. "On Testing for Full Insurance Using Consumer Expenditures Survey Data," Papers 93-02, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
    7. Blundell, Richard & Macurdy, Thomas, 1999. "Labor supply: A review of alternative approaches," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 27, pages 1559-1695, Elsevier.
    8. Chinhui Juhn & Kevin Murphy & Robert Topel, 2002. "Current Unemployment, Historically Contemplated," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(1), pages 79-136.
    9. Attanasio, Orazio & Davis, Steven J, 1996. "Relative Wage Movements and the Distribution of Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1227-1262, December.
    10. 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.
    11. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555, Elsevier.
    12. Townsend, Robert M, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in Village India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(3), pages 539-591, May.
    13. Altug, Sumru & Miller, Robert A, 1990. "Household Choices in Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(3), pages 543-570, May.
    14. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "The Macroeconomic Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 681-722, August.
    15. Slesnick,Daniel T., 2001. "Consumption and Social Welfare," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521497206, December.
    16. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1998. "Consumption Inequality and Income Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 603-640.
    17. Mace, Barbara J, 1991. "Full Insurance in the Presence of Aggregate Uncertainty," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 928-956, October.
    18. Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1994. "The Growth of Earnings Instability in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 217-272.
    19. Susan Dynarski & Jonathan Gruber, 1997. "Can Families Smooth Variable Earnings?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(1), pages 229-303.
    20. Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Vincenzo Quadrini & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 1997. "Dimensions of inequality: facts on the U.S. distributions of earnings, income, and wealth," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, vol. 21(Spr), pages 3-21.
    21. 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.
    22. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith, Jr., 1999. "On the Welfare Effects of Eliminating Business Cycles," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(1), pages 245-272, January.
    23. Hayashi, Fumio & Altonji, Joseph & Kotlikoff, Laurence, 1996. "Risk-Sharing between and within Families," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(2), pages 261-294, March.
    24. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
    25. Cochrane, John H, 1991. "A Simple Test of Consumption Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 957-976, October.
    26. Cullen, Julie Berry & Gruber, Jonathan, 2000. "Does Unemployment Insurance Crowd Out Spousal Labor Supply?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 546-572, July.
    27. Slesnick, Daniel T, 1993. "Gaining Ground: Poverty in the Postwar United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 1-38, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Krueger, Dirk & Perri, Fabrizio, 2002. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3583, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. repec:zbw:cfswop:wp200515 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2002. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality? Evidence and Theory," NBER Working Papers 9202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Storesletten, Kjetil & Telmer, Christopher I. & Yaron, Amir, 2004. "Consumption and risk sharing over the life cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 609-633, April.
    5. Thomas J. Kniesner & James P. Ziliak, 2002. "Tax Reform and Automatic Stabilization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 590-612, June.
    6. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "The Macroeconomic Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 681-722, August.
    7. Heathcote, Jonathan & Storesletten, Kjetil & Violante, Giovanni L., 2008. "Insurance and opportunities: A welfare analysis of labor market risk," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 501-525, April.
    8. Orazio Attanasio & Erich Battistin & Hidehiko Ichimura, 2004. "What Really Happened to Consumption Inequality in the US?," NBER Working Papers 10338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Blundell, Richard William & Pistaferri, Luigi & Preston, Ian, 2002. "Partial Insurance, Information, and Consumption Dynamics," CEPR Discussion Papers 3666, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Orazio Attanasio & Gabriella Berloffa & Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 2002. "From Earnings Inequality to Consumption Inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages 52-59, March.
    11. Muhammet Fatih Guvenen, 2000. "Does Stockholding Provide Perfect Risk Sharing?," GSIA Working Papers 2000-E48, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
    12. Dubois, Pierre, 2002. "Consommation, partage de risque et assurance informelle : développements théoriques et tests empiriques récents," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 78(1), pages 115-149, Mars.
    13. Neil Amin‐Smith & Orazio P. Attanasio, 2020. "Consumption and Wage Inequality in the US: The Dynamics of the Last Three Decades," Fiscal Studies, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 41(1), pages 7-38, March.
    14. Monteiro, Paulo Santos, 2008. "Testing Full Consumption Insurance in the Frequency Domain," Economic Research Papers 269910, University of Warwick - Department of Economics.
    15. Attanasio, Orazio & Davis, Steven J, 1996. "Relative Wage Movements and the Distribution of Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1227-1262, December.
    16. Kris Jacobs, 2001. "Estimating Nonseparable Preference Specifications for Asset Market Participants," CIRANO Working Papers 2001s-12, CIRANO.
    17. Greg Kaplan & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "How Much Consumption Insurance beyond Self-Insurance?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 53-87, October.
    18. Paul Gertler & Jonathan Gruber, 2002. "Insuring Consumption Against Illness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 51-70, March.
    19. Kris Jacobs, 2002. "The Rate of Risk Aversion May Be Lower Than You Think," CIRANO Working Papers 2002s-08, CIRANO.
    20. Theodoros M. Diasakos, 2013. "Comparative Statics of Asset Prices: the effect of other assets' risk," Discussion Paper Series, School of Economics and Finance 201315, School of Economics and Finance, University of St Andrews, revised 08 Jan 2014.
    21. Dehejia, Rajeev & DeLeire, Thomas & Luttmer, Erzo F.P., 2007. "Insuring consumption and happiness through religious organizations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 259-279, February.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9993. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.