Rising Economic Insecurity

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Thursday, 29 May 2008 13:02

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The Economic Policy Institute hosted a forum called Rising Economic Insecurity, focusing on instability of household income.  Jacob S. Hacker and Elisabeth Jacobs presented their paper, “The Rising Instability of American Family Incomes, 1969-2004.”  They showed that family income variance has approximately doubled over the time period and that the percentage of working-age Americans who have experienced a catastrophic drop (more than 50%) in their family income has steadily risen to about 10%.  They found that this volatility tends to come from male head of household income, not from changing patterns of women’s labor force participation.  More research is needed to determine the sources of the volatility, which may include the impact of globalization and labor unions.  Peter Gosselin of the Urban Institute also talked about his related paper “Trends in Income Volatility and Risk, 1970-2004.” He focused on a general shift of risk from the government and businesses to households.