Who Has Benefited from Economic Growth in the United States Since 1969? The Case of Children

41 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2004

See all articles by Christopher Jencks

Christopher Jencks

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Susan E. Mayer

Irving Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies

Joseph Swingle

Wellesley College - Quantitative Reasoning

Abstract

One can use the Census Bureau's income statistics to show either that low-income children were considerably worse off or considerably better off in 1999 than in 1969. Likewise, one can use Census statistics to show that middle-income children gained very little or a great deal between 1969 and 1999. Resolving these disagreements requires agreeing on the best price index, the best adjustment for changes in household size, and the best treatment of noncash benefits. In addition, one must reconcile discrepancies between trends in income and consumption. Since there is no consensus on any of these matters, we investigate trends in children's well-being using more direct measures of material well-being, such as housing conditions, neighborhood safety, motor vehicle ownership, telephone service, regular medical checkups, and food consumption. Almost all these measures suggest that low-income children's material well-being rose between the early 1970s and the late 1990s. This finding implies that traditional price indices such as the CPI-U overstated inflation.

Suggested Citation

Jencks, Christopher and Mayer, Susan E. and Swingle, Joseph, Who Has Benefited from Economic Growth in the United States Since 1969? The Case of Children. WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN THE ADVANCED INDUSTRIALIZED NATIONS, Edward N. Wolff, ed., Edward Elgar Publishing, 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=556293

Christopher Jencks (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-0546 (Phone)
617-496-9053 (Fax)

Susan E. Mayer

Irving Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( email )

900 S. Crouse Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2130
United States

Joseph Swingle

Wellesley College - Quantitative Reasoning ( email )

106 Central St.
Wellesley, MA 02181
United States

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