NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Accounting for Income Changes over the Great Recession (2007-2010) Relative to Previous Recessions: The Importance of Taxes and Transfers

Jeff Larrimore, Richard V. Burkhauser, Philip Armour

NBER Working Paper No. 19699
Issued in December 2013
NBER Program(s):   LS   PE

With data from the March CPS and using shift-share analysis, we analyze the factors that account for changes in post-tax post-transfer income during each of the past four recessions. What distinguishes the Great Recession is that drops in employment rather than wage earnings drove income declines. In addition, taxes and transfers played a much greater role in offsetting market income losses —a result largely missed in analyses that do not account for taxes and transfers. This is particularly so among the bottom quintile of the distribution where lower and increased transfers offset more than one-half of the market income declines.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19699

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