Recession Briefs: All

How is the downturn affecting inequality, consumption, unemployment, housing, poverty, the safety net, health, education, crime, attitudes, and more? The latest Recession Briefs, written by the top experts in the country, provide up-to-date evidence on the social and economic effects of the downturn.


Political Attitudes, Public Opinion, and the Great Recession

  • Authors: Lane Kenworthy and Lindsay A. Owens
  • Date: October 10, 2012
Has the Great Recession altered American views about business, finance, government, opportunity, inequality, and fairness? Has it changed the public's preferences regarding the appropriate role of government in regulating the economy and helping the less fortunate? Has it shifted political orientations or party allegiances? The purpose of this recession brief is to examine whether such opinions have changed during the Great Recession and prior recessions as much as it's often assumed.

Older Workers, Retirement, and the Great Recession

  • Author: Richard W. Johnson
  • Date: October 10, 2012
The workforce in the United States is becoming ever older. Because the number of older workers is growing, and because work is increasingly important to older adults, it is worth examining how older workers are faring in the Great Recession. This brief reports on employment, unemployment, and labor force participation among older workers since 2007, just before the labor market collapsed. It focuses on workers age 62 or older, nearly all of whom qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, an important safety net if laid off. However, it also examines outcomes for workers as young as age 50, whom employers appear somewhat reluctant to hire.

The Social Safety Net and the Great Recession

  • Author: Robert A. Moffitt
  • Date: October 10, 2012
As the economic downturn wears on, the debate about U.S. spending on the safety net has become increasingly rancorous. Indeed, former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich famously referred to Barack Obama as "the food stamp president" in the early-2012 campaign trail. The purpose of this recession brief is to step back from the rancor and describe in straightforward fashion how spending on the safety net has responded to the Great Recession.

Less Than Equal: Racial Disparities in Wealth Accumulation

  • Authors: Signe-Mary McKernan, Caroline Ratcliffe, Eugene Steuerle, Sisi Zhang
  • Date: April 4, 2013
Income inequality understates the size of the economic gap between whites and minorities in the United States. In 2010, whites on average had two times the income of blacks and Hispanics, but six times the wealth. Analyses of wealth accumulation over the life cycle show that the racial wealth gap grows sharply with age. Wealth isn't just money in the bank, it's insurance against tough times, tuition to get a better education and a better job, savings to retire on, and a springboard into the middle class.

How Much Protection Does a College Degree Afford? The Impact of the Recession on Recent College Graduates

  • Author: The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Date: January 1, 2013
Past research from Pew’s Economic Mobility Project has shown the power of a college education to both promote upward mobility and prevent downward mobility. The chances of moving from the bottom of the family income ladder all the way to the top are three times greater for someone with a college degree than for someone without one. Moreover, when compared with their less-credentialed counterparts, college graduates have been able to count on much higher earnings and lower unemployment rates. Even during the Great Recession, college graduates maintained higher rates of employment and higher earnings compared with less educated adults. However, the question of how recent college graduates have fared has remained largely unexamined, and many in the popular media have suggested that the advantageous market situation of college graduates is beginning to unravel under the pressure of the economic downturn. This study examines whether a college degree protected these recent graduates from a range of poor employment outcomes during the recession, including unemployment, low-skill jobs, and lesser wages.

Lost Generations? Wealth among Young Americans

  • Authors: Eugene Steuerle, Signe-Mary McKernan, Caroline Ratcliffe, Sisi Zhang
  • Date: March 3, 2013
Despite the Great Recession and slow recovery, the American dream of working hard, saving more, and becoming wealthier than one's parents holds true for many. Unless you're under 40. Stagnant wages, diminishing job opportunities, and lost home values may be painting a vastly different future for Gen X and Gen Y. Today's political discussions often focus on preserving the wealth and benefits of older Americans and the baby boomers. Often lost in this debate is attention to younger generations whose wealth losses, or lack of long-term gains, have been even greater.

The Great Recession and State Criminal Justice Policy: Do Economic Hard Times Matter?

  • Authors: Peter K. Enns and Delphia Shanks-Booth
  • Date: December 12, 2015

Car and Home Ownership Among Low-Income Families in the Great Recession

  • Author: Laurel Sariscsany
  • Date: December 12, 2015
In a recent paper, Columbia University's Valentina Duque, Natasha Pilkauskas, and Irwin Garkfinkel analyzed the association between the Great Recession and assets among families with children. The study revealed two key findings. First, the recession led to declines in home and car ownership among families of young children. And second, more vulnerable groups — single, cohabiting, Black, and Hispanic families — were most likely to feel these effects, with married or White mothers more likely to be protected.

The Great Recession and High-Frequency Spanking

  • Authors: Chloe Anderson, Christopher Wimer
  • Date: March 3, 2014

Public Transfers and Material Hardship in the Great Recession

  • Author: Christopher Wimer
  • Date: December 12, 2013