Hobart and William Smith College
Geneva, NY 14456
Institutional Affiliation: Hobart and William Smith College
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|July 2020||Inequality and the Safety Net in American Cities Throughout the Income Distribution, 1929–1940|
in Measuring and Understanding the Distribution and Intra/Inter-Generational Mobility of Income and Wealth, Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman, Janet C. Gornick, Barry Johnson, and Arthur Kennickell, editors
We compare three measures of inequality in cities across the United States before and during the Great Depression: gini coefficients for income in 1929 and 1933; gini coefficients for housing values in 1930, 1934, and 1940; and the share of families paying federal income taxes. Both levels and changes in housing and income ginis were strongly correlated in 1929/30 and 1933/34. However, the changes in the income gini implied increases in inequality in nearly every sample city between 1929 and 1933 while the changes in the housing gini did not. Incomes tended to become more unequal in cities located in states where income per capita fell the most. Among safety net programs, cities increased their relief spending more in areas with rising inequality. Among New Deal housing programs, th...
|May 2020||Inequality and the Safety Net Throughout the Income Distribution, 1929-1940|
with , : w27069
We explored two measures of inequality that described the full income distribution in cities. One measure is an income gini based on family incomes in 1929 for 33 cities and in 1933 for up to 48 cities in 1933 were spread throughout the country. We also estimated gini coefficients that made use of contract rents for renters and implicit rents for home owners for up to 955 cities throughout the country. We were able to expand to all counties when looking at a top-end inequality measure, the number of taxpayers per family. All three measures varied substantially across the country. We show the correlations between the various measures and also estimate the relationship between the measures and various relief programs developed by governments at all levels during the period.