Recessions during young adulthood and U.S. racial income inequality

Grant Type: academic

Grant Year: 2020

Grant Amount: $20,000

Grant description:

This research promises to advance our understanding of employment scarring by empirically teasing out the racial differences in long-term consequences of deep U.S. economic downturns for those who are relatively young when a recession hits. Focusing on the 1980 recession, which was both deep and long, the author will use a triple-difference approach to examine the recession’s long-run effects by comparing the incomes in adulthood of teens (ages 14 to 17) and young adults (ages 18 to 22) (first difference), living in counties with a more-severe versus less-severe recessions (second difference), who are Black or Hispanic versus White (third difference).

Using the differences in the severity of the recession across local areas as an identifying variation, the author will utilize individual-level data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth in 1979, along with county-level location data with special access from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The 1980 recession is far enough in the past to allow a study of the outcomes of the sample when individuals are in their mid-30s to mid-40s years of age. This research is poised to provide insight into the long-run effects of recessions on Black and Hispanic youth who resided in regions where the recession was deepest, adding nuance to our understanding of the “scarring” effects of recessions on young workers by adding a racial component. Givin the current economic situation, it is clear why this research is relevant to current policy debates.

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