The Social and Economic Effects of the Great Recession
The Russell Sage Foundation has recently completed a major initiative to assess the effects of the Great Recession on the economic, political, and social life of the country. Officially over in 2009, the Great Recession is now generally acknowledged to be the most devastating global economic crisis since the Great Depression. Prolonged economic stagnation is likely to transform American institutions and severely erode the life chances of many Americans. To understand these effects across a broad swath of social and economic life, the Foundation identified 15 areas of inquiry—such as retirement, education, income and wealth—and funded proposals for innovative projects from a distinguished team of scholars.
Erling Barth of the University of Oslo, James Davis of the U.S. Census Bureau and Richard Freeman of Harvard University seek to understand why U.S. businesses shed so many jobs in the recession and why the unemployment rate remains so high.
The Recession Trends website offers 16 policy briefs that document the effects of the downturn on wealth, consumption, the labor market, housing, poverty, the safety net, health, education, crime, attitudes, and a variety of other key domains. The site also offers a simple to use graphing utility that provides customizable graphs on key trends.
Four years after the beginning of the Great Recession, the labor market remains historically weak. Many observers have concluded that "structural" impediments to recovery bear some of the blame. The author reviews such structural explanations, but after analyzing U.S. data on unemployment and productivity, he finds there is little evidence supporting these hypotheses. [...]