Income inequality and redistribution in the aftermath of the 2007-2007 crisis: the US case

Number: 96
Year: 2016
Author(s): Vanda Almeida
This paper provides a detailed empirical assessment of the evolution of income inequality and the redistributive e↵ects of the tax and transfer system following the 2007-2008 crisis. It focuses on the US case, drawing on data from the Current Population Survey for the period 2007-2012. Contrary to most existing studies, it uses of a wide range of inequality indicators and looks in detail at several sections of the income distribution, allowing for a clearer picture of the heterogeneous consequences of the crisis. Furthermore, it analyses the contribution of di↵erent types of taxes and transfers, beyond the overall cushioning e↵ect of the system, which allows for a more refined assessment of its e↵ectiveness. Results show that although the crisis implied income losses across the whole income distribution, the burden was disproportionately born by low to middle income groups. Income losses experienced by richer households were relatively modest and transitory, while those experienced by poorer households were not only strong but also highly persistent. The redistributive system had a crucial role in taming the increase in income inequality in the immediate aftermath of the crisis, and during the GR years, particularly cash transfers. After 2010, however, its e↵ect became weaker and income inequality experienced a new surge. The findings of this paper contribute to a better understanding of the distributional consequences of aggregate crises and the role of tax and transfer policies in stabilising the income distribution in a crisis aftermath.e theoretical bases for the impact of higher education policy on social mobility.

Vanda Almeida
Paris School of Economics, Banco de Portugal

Language: English


The paper may be downloaded here.


Keywords: Crisis,Gini,Income,Inequality,Income tax,Low income,Personal Income Distribution,Redistribution,Safety net,Transfers