NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Slipping into and out of Poverty: The Dynamics of Spells

Mary Jo Bane, David T. Ellwood

NBER Working Paper No. 1199
Issued in September 1983
NBER Program(s):   LS

This paper examines the dynamics of poverty. Previous analyses of the dynamics of poverty have either examined only fluctuations in the male heads earnings or looked at the frequency of poverty periods over a fixed time frame. We argue that a more appropriate way to understand the dynamics of poverty is to define spells of poverty. Using this methodology we find that the majority of poor persons at any point in time are in fact in the midst of a rather long spell of poverty. The methodology also allows us to estimate the extent to which poverty spell beginnings and endings are associated with changes in income or changes in family structure. Less than 40 percent of poverty spell beginnings seem to be caused by a drop in the heads earnings,while 60 percent of endings occur when the head's earnings increase. As a result we argue that to understand the causes and potential remedies for poverty, researchers must focus on household formation decisions and on the behavior of so called secondary family members.

download in pdf format
   (269 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (269 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w1199

Published: Bane, Mary Jo and David T. Ellwood. "Slipping into and out of Poverty: The Dynamics of Spells." Available through ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education, ERIC Document Reproduction Service, Arlington, Virginia alsoin Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 21, No.1, Winter 1986.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Stevens w5390 Climbing Out of Poverty, Falling Back In: Measuring the Persistence of Poverty over Multiple Spells
Ellwood and Summers w1711 Poverty in America: Is Welfare the Answer or the Problem?
Krueger and Maleckova w9074 Education, Poverty, Political Violence and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?
Hoynes, Page, and Stevens w11681 Poverty in America: Trends and Explanations
Neumark and Wascher w6127 Do Minimum Wages Fight Poverty?
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us