Many working families continue to struggle in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the deepest and longest economic downturn since the Great Depression. In Children of the Great Recession, a group of leading scholars draw from a unique study of nearly 5,000 economically and ethnically diverse families in twenty cities to analyze the effects of the Great Recession on parents and young children. By exploring the discrepancies in outcomes between these families—particularly between those headed by parents with college degrees and those without—this timely book shows how the most disadvantaged families have continued to suffer as a result of the Great Recession.
Several contributors examine the recession’s impact on the economic well-being of families, including changes to income, poverty levels, and economic insecurity. Irwin Garfinkel and Natasha Pilkauskas find that in cities with high unemployment rates during the recession, incomes for families with a college-educated mother fell by only about 5 percent, whereas families without college degrees experienced income losses three to four times greater. Garfinkel and Pilkauskas also show that the number of non-college-educated families enrolled in federal safety net programs—including Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or food stamps)—grew rapidly in response to the Great Recession.
Other researchers examine how parents’ physical and emotional health, relationship stability, and parenting behavior changed over the course of the recession. Janet Currie and Valentina Duque find that while mothers and fathers across all education groups experienced more health problems as a result of the downturn, health disparities by education widened. Daniel Schneider, Sara McLanahan and Kristin Harknett find decreases in marriage and cohabitation rates among less-educated families, and Ronald Mincy and Elia de la Cruz-Toledo show that as unemployment rates increased, nonresident fathers’ child support payments decreased. William Schneider, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, and Jane Waldfogel show that fluctuations in unemployment rates negatively affected parenting quality and child well-being, particularly for families where the mother did not have a four-year college degree.
Although the recession affected most Americans, Children of the Great Recession reveals how vulnerable parents and children paid a higher price. The research in this volume suggests that policies that boost college access and reinforce the safety net could help protect disadvantaged families in times of economic crisis.
Winner, 2017 American Theater and Drama Society John W. Frick Book Award
Winner, 2017 ASTR Barnard Hewitt Award for Outstanding Research in Theater History
Hillary Miller’s Drop Dead: Performance in Crisis, 1970s New York offers a fascinating and comprehensive exploration of how the city’s financial crisis shaped theater and performance practices in this turbulent decade and beyond.
New York City’s performing arts community suffered greatly from a severe reduction in grants in the mid-1970s. A scholar and playwright, Miller skillfully synthesizes economics, urban planning, tourism, and immigration to create a map of the interconnected urban landscape and to contextualize the struggle for resources. She reviews how numerous theater professionals, including Ellen Stewart of La MaMa E.T.C. and Julie Bovasso, Vinnette Carroll, and Joseph Papp of The Public Theater, developed innovative responses to survive the crisis.
Combining theater history and close readings of productions, each of Miller’s chapters is a case study focusing on a company, a production, or an element of New York’s theater infrastructure. Her expansive survey visits Broadway, Off-, Off-Off-, Coney Island, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, community theater, and other locations to bring into focus the large-scale changes wrought by the financial realignments of the day.
Nuanced, multifaceted, and engaging, Miller’s lively account of the financial crisis and resulting transformation of the performing arts community offers an essential chronicle of the decade and demonstrates its importance in understanding our present moment.
The Great Recession
David B. Grusky Russell Sage Foundation, 2012 Library of Congress HB3743.G74 2011 | Dewey Decimal 330.9730931
Officially over in 2009, the Great Recession is now generally acknowledged to be the most devastating global economic crisis since the Great Depression. As a result of the crisis, the United States lost more than 7.5 million jobs, and the unemployment rate doubled—peaking at more than 10 percent. The collapse of the housing market and subsequent equity market fluctuations delivered a one-two punch that destroyed trillions of dollars in personal wealth and made many Americans far less financially secure. Still reeling from these early shocks, the U.S. economy will undoubtedly take years to recover. Less clear, however, are the social effects of such economic hardship on a U.S. population accustomed to long periods of prosperity. How are Americans responding to these hard times? The Great Recession is the first authoritative assessment of how the aftershocks of the recession are affecting individuals and families, jobs, earnings and poverty, political and social attitudes, lifestyle and consumption practices, and charitable giving. Focused on individual-level effects rather than institutional causes, The Great Recession turns to leading experts to examine whether the economic aftermath caused by the recession is transforming how Americans live their lives, what they believe in, and the institutions they rely on. Contributors Michael Hout, Asaf Levanon, and Erin Cumberworth show how job loss during the recession—the worst since the 1980s—hit less-educated workers, men, immigrants, and factory and construction workers the hardest. Millions of lost industrial jobs are likely never to be recovered and where new jobs are appearing, they tend to be either high-skill positions or low-wage employment—offering few opportunities for the middle-class. Edward Wolff, Lindsay Owens, and Esra Burak examine the effects of the recession on housing and wealth for the very poor and the very rich. They find that while the richest Americans experienced the greatest absolute wealth loss, their resources enabled them to weather the crisis better than the young families, African Americans, and the middle class, who experienced the most disproportionate loss—including mortgage delinquencies, home foreclosures, and personal bankruptcies. Lane Kenworthy and Lindsay Owens ask whether this recession is producing enduring shifts in public opinion akin to those that followed the Great Depression. Surprisingly, they find no evidence of recession-induced attitude changes toward corporations, the government, perceptions of social justice, or policies aimed at aiding the poor. Similarly, Philip Morgan, Erin Cumberworth, and Christopher Wimer find no major recession effects on marriage, divorce, or cohabitation rates. They do find a decline in fertility rates, as well as increasing numbers of adult children returning home to the family nest—evidence that suggests deep pessimism about recovery. This protracted slump—marked by steep unemployment, profound destruction of wealth, and sluggish consumer activity—will likely continue for years to come, and more pronounced effects may surface down the road. The contributors note that, to date, this crisis has not yet generated broad shifts in lifestyle and attitudes. But by clarifying how the recession’s early impacts have—and have not—influenced our current economic and social landscape, The Great Recession establishes an important benchmark against which to measure future change.
A distinguished Yale economist and legal scholar’s argument that law, of all things, has the potential to rescue us from the next economic crisis.
After the economic crisis of 2008, private-sector spending took nearly a decade to recover. Yair Listokin thinks we can respond more quickly to the next meltdown by reviving and refashioning a policy approach whose proven success is too rarely acknowledged. Harking back to New Deal regulatory agencies, Listokin proposes that we take seriously law’s ability to function as a macroeconomic tool, capable of stimulating demand when needed and relieving demand when it threatens to overheat economies.
Listokin makes his case by looking at both positive and cautionary examples, going back to the New Deal and including the Keystone Pipeline, the constitutionally fraught bond-buying program unveiled by the European Central Bank at the nadir of the Eurozone crisis, the ongoing Greek crisis, and the experience of U.S. price controls in the 1970s. History has taught us that law is an unwieldy instrument of macroeconomic policy, but Listokin argues that under certain conditions it offers a vital alternative to the monetary and fiscal policy tools that stretch the legitimacy of technocratic central banks near their breaking point while leaving the rest of us waiting and wallowing.
The first book-length work on market monetarism, written by its leading scholar.
Is it possible that the consensus around what caused the 2008 Great Recession is almost entirely wrong? It’s happened before. Just as Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz led the economics community in the 1960s to reevaluate its view of what caused the Great Depression, the same may be happening now to our understanding of the first economic crisis of the 21st century.
Foregoing the usual relitigating of problems such as housing markets and banking crises, renowned monetary economist Scott Sumner argues that the Great Recession came down to one thing: nominal GDP, the sum of all nominal spending in the economy, which the Federal Reserve erred in allowing to plummet. The Money Illusion is an end-to-end case for this school of thought, known as market monetarism, written by its leading voice in economics. Based almost entirely on standard macroeconomic concepts, this highly accessible text lays the groundwork for a simple yet fundamentally radical understanding of how monetary policy can work best: providing a stable environment for a market economy to flourish.
Of all economic recessions experienced by the United States in the postwar period, the Great Recession that began in 2008 was the deepest, longest, and most destructive. Nevada was among the hardest hit states, its people reeling from the aftereffects, and the state government also experiencing a severe fiscal crisis. University of Nevada economics professor Elliott Parker and then-State Treasurer Kate Marshall make sense of what went wrong and why, with the hope the state will learn lessons to prevent past mistakes from being made again.
This is a different kind of economics book. Parker uses his expertise from doing research on the East Asian fiscal crisis to give profound insights into what happened and how to avoid future catastrophes. Marshall personalizes it by providing vignettes of what it was actually like to be in the trenches and fighting the inevitable political battles that came up, and counteracting some of the falsehoods that certain politicians were spreading about the recession.
Parker and Marshall’s book should be required reading for not only every single elected official in Nevada, but for any private citizen who cares about the public good.
During his winning presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to counter rising economic inequality and revitalize America's middle-class through a series of wide-ranging reforms. His transformational agenda sought to ensure affordable healthcare; reform the nation's schools and make college more affordable; promote clean and renewable energy; reform labor laws and immigration; and redistribute the tax burden from the middle class to wealthier citizens. The Wall Street crisis and economic downturn that erupted as Obama took office also put U.S. financial regulation on the agenda. By the middle of President Obama's first term in office, he had succeeded in advancing major reforms by legislative and administrative means. But a sluggish economic recovery from the deep recession of 2009, accompanied by polarized politics and governmental deadlock in Washington, DC, have raised questions about how far Obama's promised transformations can go. Reaching for a New Deal analyzes both the ambitious domestic policy of Obama's first two years and the consequent political backlash—up to and including the 2010 midterm elections. Reaching for a New Deal opens by assessing how the Obama administration overcame intense partisan struggles to achieve legislative victories in three areas—health care reform, federal higher education loans and grants, and financial regulation. Lawrence Jacobs and Theda Skocpol examine the landmark health care bill, signed into law in spring 2010, which extended affordable health benefits to millions of uninsured Americans after nearly 100 years of failed legislative attempts to do so. Suzanne Mettler explains how Obama succeeded in reorienting higher education policy by shifting loan administration from lenders to the federal government and extending generous tax tuition credits. Reaching for a New Deal also examines the domains in which Obama has used administrative action to further reforms in schools and labor law. The book concludes with examinations of three areas—energy, immigration, and taxes—where Obama's efforts at legislative compromises made little headway. Reaching for a New Deal combines probing analyses of Obama's domestic policy achievements with a big picture look at his change-oriented presidency. The book uses struggles over policy changes as a window into the larger dynamics of American politics and situates the current political era in relation to earlier pivotal junctures in U.S. government and public policy. It offers invaluable lessons about unfolding political transformations in the United States.
The Repoliticization of the Welfare State grapples with the evolving nature of political conflict over social spending after the Great Recession. While the severity of the economic crisis encouraged strong social spending responses to protect millions of individuals, governments have faced growing pressure to reduce budgets and make deep cuts to the welfare state. Whereas conservative parties have embraced fiscal discipline and welfare state cuts, left-wing parties have turned away from austerity in favor of higher social spending. These political differences represent a return of traditional left-right beliefs over social spending and economic governance.
This book is one of the first to systematically compare welfare state politics before and after the Great Recession, arguing that a new and lasting post-crisis dynamic has emerged where political parties once again matter for social spending. At the heart of this repoliticization are intense ideological debates over market regulation, social inequality, redistribution, and the role of the state. The book analyzes social spending dynamics for 28 countries before and after the crisis. It also includes in-depth country case studies representing five distinct welfare state types: Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, and the Czech Republic.
A powerful case that the economic shocks of the 1970s hastened both the end of the Cold War and the rise of neoliberalism by forcing governments to impose austerity on their own people.
Why did the Cold War come to a peaceful end? And why did neoliberal economics sweep across the world in the late twentieth century? In this pathbreaking study, Fritz Bartel argues that the answer to these questions is one and the same. The Cold War began as a competition between capitalist and communist governments to expand their social contracts as they raced to deliver their people a better life. But the economic shocks of the 1970s made promises of better living untenable on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Energy and financial markets placed immense pressure on governments to discipline their social contracts. Rather than make promises, political leaders were forced to break them.
In a sweeping narrative, The Triumph of Broken Promises tells the story of how the pressure to break promises spurred the end of the Cold War. In the West, neoliberalism provided Western leaders like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher with the political and ideological tools to shut down industries, impose austerity, and favor the interests of capital over labor. But in Eastern Europe, revolutionaries like Lech Walesa in Poland resisted any attempt at imposing market discipline. Mikhail Gorbachev tried in vain to reform the Soviet system, but the necessary changes ultimately presented too great a challenge.
Faced with imposing economic discipline antithetical to communist ideals, Soviet-style governments found their legitimacy irreparably damaged. But in the West, politicians could promote austerity as an antidote to the excesses of ideological opponents, setting the stage for the rise of the neoliberal global economy.
A deep question in economics is why wages and salaries don't fall during recessions. This is not true of other prices, which adjust relatively quickly to reflect changes in demand and supply. Although economists have posited many theories to account for wage rigidity, none is satisfactory. Eschewing "top-down" theorizing, Truman Bewley explored the puzzle by interviewing—during the recession of the early 1990s—over three hundred business executives and labor leaders as well as professional recruiters and advisors to the unemployed.
By taking this approach, gaining the confidence of his interlocutors and asking them detailed questions in a nonstructured way, he was able to uncover empirically the circumstances that give rise to wage rigidity. He found that the executives were averse to cutting wages of either current employees or new hires, even during the economic downturn when demand for their products fell sharply. They believed that cutting wages would hurt morale, which they felt was critical in gaining the cooperation of their employees and in convincing them to internalize the managers' objectives for the company. Bewley's findings contradict most theories of wage rigidity and provide fascinating insights into the problems businesses face that prevent labor markets from clearing.