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Keywords:inequality 

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

Working Paper
Inequality in the Time of COVID-19: Evidence from Mortgage Delinquency and Forbearance

Using a novel database that combines mortgage servicing records, credit-bureau data, and loan application information, we show that lower-income and minority borrowers have significantly higher nonpayment rates during the COVID-19 pandemic, even after controlling for conventional risk factors. A difference-in-differences analysis shows how much the pandemic has exacerbated income and racial inequalities. We then find that government and private-sector forbearance programs have mitigated these inequalities in the near term, as lower-income and minority borrowers have taken up the short-term ...
Working Papers , Paper 21-09

Report
Educational assortative mating and household income inequality

We document the degree of educational assortative mating, how it evolves over time, and the extent to which it differs between countries. Our analysis focuses on the United States but also uses data from Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Norway. We find evidence of positive assortative mating at all levels of education in each country. However, the time trends vary by the level of education: Among college graduates, assortative mating has been declining over time, whereas individuals with a low level of education are increasingly sorting into internally homogeneous marriages. These ...
Staff Reports , Paper 682

Briefing
Inequality in and across Cities

Inequality in the United States has an important spatial component. More-skilled workers tend to live in larger cities where they earn higher wages. Less-skilled workers make lower wages and do not experience similar gains even when they live in those cities. This dynamic implies that larger cities are also more unequal. These relationships appear to have become more pronounced as inequality has increased. The evidence points to externalities among high-skilled workers as a significant contributor to those patterns.
Richmond Fed Economic Brief , Issue October

Working Paper
Insurance and Inequality with Persistent Private Information

This paper studies the optimal tradeoff between insurance and inequality in economies with persistent private information.We consider a principal-agent model in which the principal insures the agent against privately-observed shocks to his endowment, which follows an ergodic finite-state Markov chain that may exhibit arbitrary serial correlation. The optimal contract always induces immiseration: the agent’s consumption and utility become arbitrarily negative in the long run. When the endowment is positively serially correlated, the optimal contract provides increasingly high-powered ...
Working Papers , Paper 2018-020

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

Discussion Paper
A Discussion of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century: By How Much Is r Greater than g?

Thomas Piketty?s 2014 book Capital in the Twenty-First Century may have been a greater sensation upon publication than Karl Marx?s nineteenth-century Das Kapital. It made the New York Times bestseller list, generated myriad reviews and responses from economists at top institutions, and was the subject of a standing-room-only session at the recent American Economic Association annual meeting. In Capital, Piketty argues that wealth inequality is set to rise from its relatively low levels in the 1950s through the 1970s to the very high levels it once occupied at the dawn of the Industrial ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20150713b

Working Paper
On the Heterogeneous Welfare Gains and Losses from Trade

How are the gains and losses from trade distributed across individuals within a country? First, we document that tradable goods and services constitute a larger fraction of expenditures for low-wealth and low-income households. Second, we build a trade model with nonhomothetic preferences?to generate the documented relationship between tradable expenditure shares, income, and wealth?and uninsurable earnings risk?to generate heterogeneity in income and wealth. Third, we use the calibrated model to quantify the differential welfare gains and losses from trade along the income and wealth ...
Working Papers , Paper 201906R2

Discussion Paper
Why Cash Transfers Are Good Policy in the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an exceptionally large and negative impact on economic activity around the world. We show that cash transfers can be a useful policy tool during a pandemic. Cash transfers mitigate consumption inequality induced by the pandemic and provide incentives to individuals who are most negatively affected by lockdown policies to adhere to them.
Policy Hub , Paper 2020-4

Journal Article
Inequality Across and Within US Cities around the Turn of the Twenty-First Century

We review key facts about inequality across and within US cities around the turn of the twenty-first century and discuss theoretical interpretations. Large cities are cities with a greater proportion of skilled workers. In those large and skill-intensive cities, wages are overall higher but are offset by higher rents. Those higher wages are particularly prevalent among high-skilled workers, so that the skill premium increases with city size and skill mix. Over the last few decades, these facts have become increasingly salient. We discuss possible explanations for these facts with the help of ...
Economic Quarterly , Issue Q1-Q4 , Pages 1-35

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