Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 26 No. 3 (Summer 2012)


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Who Suffers during Recessions?

Article Citation

Hoynes, Hilary, Douglas L. Miller, and Jessamyn Schaller. 2012. "Who Suffers during Recessions?" Journal of Economic Perspectives, 26(3): 27-48.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.26.3.27


In this paper, we examine how business cycles affect labor market outcomes in the United States. We conduct a detailed analysis of how cycles affect outcomes differentially across persons of differing age, education, race, and gender, and we compare the cyclical sensitivity during the Great Recession to that in the early 1980s recession. We present raw tabulations and estimate a state panel data model that leverages variation across U.S. states in the timing and severity of business cycles. We find that the impacts of the Great Recession are not uniform across demographic groups and have been felt most strongly for men, black and Hispanic workers, youth, and low-education workers. These dramatic differences in the cyclicality across demographic groups are remarkably stable across three decades of time and throughout recessionary periods and expansionary periods. For the 2007 recession, these differences are largely explained by differences in exposure to cycles across industry-occupation employment.

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Hoynes, Hilary (U CA, Davis)
Miller, Douglas L. (U CA, Davis)
Schaller, Jessamyn (U AZ)

JEL Classifications

E24: Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital
E32: Business Fluctuations; Cycles
J14: Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-labor Market Discrimination
J15: Economics of Minorities, Races, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
J16: Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination


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