Another Look at Whether a Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

69 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2001 Last revised: 22 Oct 2010

See all articles by James R. Hines Jr.

James R. Hines Jr.

University of Michigan; NBER

Hilary Williamson Hoynes

University of California, Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Alan B. Krueger

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: August 2001

Abstract

Periods of rapid U.S. economic growth during the 1960s and 1970s coincided with improved living standards for many segments of the population, including the disadvantaged as well as the affluent, suggesting to some that a rising economic tide lifts all demographic boats. This paper investigates the impact of U.S. business cycle conditions on population well-being since the 1970s. Aggregate employment and hours worked in this period are strongly procyclical, particularly for low-skilled workers, while aggregate real wages are only mildly procyclical. Similar patterns appear in a balanced panel of PSID respondents that removes the effects of changing workforce composition, though the magnitude of the responsiveness of real wages to unemployment appears to have declined in the last 20 years. Economic upturns increase the likelihood that workers acquire jobs in sectors with positively sloped career ladders. Spending by state and local governments in all categories rises during economic expansions, including welfare spending, for which needs vary countercyclically. Since the disadvantaged are likely to benefit disproportionately from such government spending, it follows that the public finances also contribute to conveying the benefits of a strong economy to diverse population groups.

Suggested Citation

Hines, James Rodger and Hoynes, Hilary Williamson and Krueger, Alan B., Another Look at Whether a Rising Tide Lifts All Boats (August 2001). NBER Working Paper No. w8412. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=278763

James Rodger Hines (Contact Author)

University of Michigan ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

NBER

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Hilary Williamson Hoynes

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Alan B. Krueger

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-2098
United States
609-258-4046 (Phone)
609-258-2907 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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