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Keywords:inequality 

Discussion Paper
Job Ladders and Careers

Workers in the United States experience vast differences in lifetime earnings. Individuals in the 90th percentile earn around seven times more than those in the 10th percentile, and those in the top percentile earn almost twenty times more. A large share of these differences arise over the course of people?s careers. What accounts for these vastly different outcomes in the labor market? Why do some individuals experience much steeper earnings profiles than others? Previous research has shown that the ?job ladder??in which workers obtain large pay increases when they switch to better jobs or ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20191008

Discussion Paper
Does U.S. Health Inequality Reflect Income Inequality—or Something Else?

Health is an integral part of well-being. The United Nations Human Development Index uses life expectancy (together with GDP per capita and literacy) as one of three key indicators of human welfare across the world. In this post, I discuss the state of life expectancy inequality in the United States and examine some of the underlying factors in its evolution over the past several decades.
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20191015

Discussion Paper
Is the Tide Lifting All Boats? A Closer Look at the Earnings Growth Experiences of U.S. Workers

The growth rate of hourly earnings is a widely used indicator to assess the economic progress of U.S. workers, as well as the health of the labor market. It is also a measure of wage pressures that could potentially spill over into inflationary pressures in a tightening labor market. Hourly earnings growth, on average, has gradually risen over the course of the current expansion, under way since the end of the Great Recession. But how have different groups of workers fared in this regard? Have hourly earnings risen uniformly at all points of the wage distribution, or have some segments of the ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20200304b

Report
Business cycle fluctuations and the distribution of consumption

This paper sheds new light on the interactions between business cycles and the consumption distribution. We use Consumer Expenditure Survey data and a factor model to characterize the cyclical dynamics of the consumption distribution. We first establish that our approach is able to closely match business cycle fluctuations of consumption from the National Account. We then study the responses of the consumption distribution to total factor productivity shocks and economic policy uncertainty shocks. Importantly, we find that the responses of the right tail of the consumption distribution, ...
Staff Reports , Paper 716

Report
Anatomy of Lifetime Earnings Inequality: Heterogeneity in Job Ladder Risk vs. Human Capital

We study the determinants of lifetime earnings (LE) inequality in the United States, for which differences in lifetime earnings growth are key. Using administrative data and focusing on the roles of job ladder dynamics and on-the-job learning, we document that 1) lower LE workers change jobs more often, mainly driven by higher nonemployment; 2) earnings growth for job stayers is similar at around 2 percent in the bottom two-thirds of the LE distribution, whereas for job switchers it rises with LE; and 3) top LE workers enjoy high earnings growth regardless of job switching. We estimate a job ...
Staff Reports , Paper 908

Report
Modigliani Meets Minsky: Inequality, Debt, and Financial Fragility in America, 1950-2016

This paper studies the secular increase in U.S. household debt and its relation to growing income inequality and financial fragility. We exploit a new household-level data set that covers the joint distributions of debt, income, and wealth in the United States over the past seven decades. The data show that increased borrowing by middle-class families with low income growth played a central role in rising indebtedness. Debt-to-income ratios have risen most dramatically for households between the 50th and 90th percentiles of the income distribution. While their income growth was low, ...
Staff Reports , Paper 924

Working Paper
Regressive Welfare Effects of Housing Bubbles

We analyze the welfare effects of asset bubbles in a model with income inequality and financial friction. We show that a bubble that emerges in the value of housing, a durable asset that is fundamentally useful for everyone, has regressive welfare effects. By raising the housing price, the bubble benefits high-income savers but negatively affects low-income borrowers. The key intuition is that, by creating a bubble in the market price, savers' demand for the housing asset for investment purposes imposes a negative externality on borrowers, who only demand the housing asset for utility ...
Working Paper , Paper 18-10

Working Paper
Does Greater Inequality Lead to More Household Borrowing? New Evidence from Household Data

One suggested hypothesis for the dramatic rise in household borrowing that preceded the financial crisis is that low-income households increased their demand for credit to finance higher consumption expenditures in order to "keep up" with higher-income households. Using household level data on debt accumulation during 2001-2012, we show that low-income households in high-inequality regions accumulated less debt relative to income than their counterparts in lower-inequality regions, which negates the hypothesis. We argue instead that these patterns are consistent with supply-side ...
Working Paper , Paper 14-1

Report
The impact of migration on earnings inequality in New England

Migration plays an important role in the New England economy; absent immigration, the region?s population and workforce would have shrunk in recent years. Yet increasingly, immigrant inflows have been met with legislative opposition at both the national and regional levels, motivated in part by concerns that immigration may be an important factor driving the marked rise in earnings inequality. The research findings presented in this report, however, indicate that immigration accounts for a very small portion?only 6.0 percent?of the rising earnings inequality that the region has experienced. ...
New England Public Policy Center Research Report , Paper 19-2

Working Paper
Intergenerational Health Mobility in the US

Studies of intergenerational mobility have largely ignored health despite the central importance of health to welfare. We present the first estimates of intergenerational health mobility in the US by using repeated measures of self-reported health status (SRH) during adulthood from the PSID. Our main finding is that there is substantially greater health mobility than income mobility in the US. A possible explanation is that social institutions and policies are more effective at disrupting intergenerational health transmission than income transmission. We further show that health and income ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2018-2

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