Did Timing Matter? Life Cycle Differences in Effects of Exposure to the Great Recession

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111919-WP–Did Timing Matter-Rinz

Kevin Rinz, U.S. Census Bureau


Exposure to a recession can have persistent, negative consequences, but does the severity of those consequences depend on when in the life cycle a person is exposed? I estimate the effects of exposure to the Great Recession on employment and earnings outcomes for groups defined by year of birth over the ten years following the beginning of the recession. With the exception of the oldest workers, all groups experience reductions in earnings and employment due to local unemployment rate shocks during the recession. Younger workers experience the largest earnings losses in percent terms (up to 13 percent), in part because recession exposure makes them persistently less likely to work for high-paying employers even as their overall employment recovers more quickly than older workers’. Younger workers also experience reductions in earnings and employment due to changes in local labor market structure associated with the recession. These effects are substantially smaller in magnitude but more persistent than the effects of unemployment rate increases.


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