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Inequality in the Great Recession: The Case of the United States

In this chapter for an international study, "The Great Recession and the Distribution of Household Income," Jeffrey Thompson and Timothy Smeeding highlight the degree to which economic and social policies, such as the federal stimulus, unemployment insurance, food stamps, and Social Security shielded the general population from substantial increases in income inequality due to the recession. They examine the impact on households, such as job losses, increases in poverty, and increases in households “doubling up” as a coping mechanism. Thompson and Smeeding find that potential income inequality increases were suppressed in large part because of the effect of the elderly population, which saw public transfers boosted, and who worked more hours through the recession.

The full study can be downloaded from the Fondazione Rodolfo Debenedetti.

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