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Trickling Down or Fizzling Out? Economic Performance, Transfers, Inequality and Low Income

  • Lin, Zhengxi
  • Zyblock, Miles
  • Zhengxi, Lin
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    The objectives of this paper are to determine the empirical relationships between economic performance, transfers and low income among Canadian families, and to explore whether these relationships have changed over time. Similar recent studies in the US find a weakening in the relationship between economic growth and low income reduction over the past 25 years. Using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances of Statistics Canada, we find that there is a statistically significant negative relationship between economic performance and the incidence of low income among families in Canada for the period from 1973 to 1995. Government transfers are also found to lift families above the low income threshold. These results are robust across different family types and for three different measures of low income. We also find a weakening in the relationship between improved economic performance and low income reduction for most family types between 1973 and 1995, and for all family types after 1980. This weakening is associated with rising pre-transfer income inequality among families. Increasing inequality has also reduced the negative impact of transfers on low income rates.

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    Paper provided by Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch in its series Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series with number 1997110e.

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    Date of creation: 25 Nov 1997
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    Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:1997110e
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    1. Gottschalk, Peter & Danziger, Sheldon, 1985. "A Framework for Evaluating the Effects of Economic Growth and Transfers on Poverty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 153-61, March.
    2. Rebecca M. Blank & Alan S. Blinder, 1985. "Macroeconomics, Income Distribution, and Poverty," NBER Working Papers 1567, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Smolensky, Eugene, et al, 1994. "Growth, Inequality, and Poverty: A Cautionary Note," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 40(2), pages 217-22, June.
    4. Danziger, Sheldon & Gottschalk, Peter, 1986. "Do Rising Tides Lift All Boats? The Impact of Secular and Cyclical Changes on Poverty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 405-10, May.
    5. 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.
    6. Garnett Picot & John Myles, 1996. "Social Transfers, Changing Family Structure and Low Income Among Children," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 22(3), pages 244-267, September.
    7. James Tobin, 1993. "Poverty in Relation to Macroeconomic Trends, Cycles, and Policies," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1030R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    8. Rebecca M. Blank & David Card, 1993. "Poverty, Income Distribution, and Growth: Are They Still Connected," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 24(2), pages 285-340.
    9. Heisz, Andrew, 1996. "Changes in Job Tenure and Job Stability in Canada," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1996095e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    10. Golam Azam & Alonzo Redmon, 1993. "Revisiting the relationship between growth and poverty," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 5-18, September.
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