Research

2012

We examine differences in income within the U.S., and the regions of persistent poverty that have arisen, using a newly assembled dataset of counties that links historical 19th century Census data with contemporaneous data. The data, along with an augmented human capital growth model, permit us to identify the roles of contemporaneous differences in aggregate production technologies and factor endowments, in conjunction with the historical roles of institutions, culture, geography, and human capital.

2011

I survey recent developments in antipoverty policy in the United States over the past decade and examine how the safety net and tax system affects poverty and its correlates using data from the 2000 to 2010 waves of the Current Population Survey-Annual Social and Economic Supplement. Unlike the 1980s and 1990s, and until the health care overhaul in 2009, the first decade of the 21st Century was relatively tepid in terms of major transfer policy reforms.

The proportion of low-income, single mothers not receiving public assistance or participating in the formal employment sector has approximately doubled over the past decade. Many of the currently debated policy options to support these families focus on state level programs. However, little is known about the relationships between state welfare program characteristics and disconnectedness. This project assesses the effect of state welfare rules on the likelihood of being disconnected from these two income sources.

Reducing hunger risk among older Americans requires a concerted policy effort that is informed by rigorous research on the extent, causes, and consequences of food insecurity. In this report we provide a comprehensive portrait of the causes and consequences of food insecurity among adults age 50-59 in comparison to those in their 40s and those 60 and older.

We offer new evidence on earnings volatility of men and women in the United States over the past four decades by using matched data from the March Current Population Survey. We construct a measure of total volatility that encompasses both permanent and transitory instability, and that admits employment transitions and losses from self employment. We also present a detailed decomposition of earnings volatility to account for changing shares in employment probabilities, conditional variances of continuous workers, and conditional mean variances from labor-force entry and exit.

Does managed care produce lower health care utilization and costs through better aligned financial incentives and alternative delivery methods (the “pure” HMO effect) or by attracting more healthy enrollees (enrollee selection)? The purpose of this paper is to shed new light on this fundamental question using a quasi-experimental approach that exploits the timing and county specific implementation of Medicaid managed care plans in two distinct sub-sets of Kentucky counties in the late 1990s.

On April 28, 2011, the University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research, in conjunction with the Brookings Institution and U.S. Census Bureau, sponsored a research forum titled Cost of Living and the Supplemental Poverty Measure at the Brookings Institution.

This paper demonstrates the importance of earnings-sensitive migration in response to local variation in labor demand. We use geographic variation in the depth of the housing bust to examine its effects on the migration of natives and Mexican-born individuals in the U.S. We find a strong effect of the housing bust on the location choices of Mexicans, with movement of Mexican population away from U.S. states facing the largest declines in construction and movement toward U.S. states facing smaller declines.

2010

Policy makers are becoming increasingly concerned about the high percentage of students who attend postsecondary education without completing a degree. Researchers have studied numerous potential determinants of retention behavior for postsecondary students, such as financial aid, socioeconomic status, academic preparedness, academic and social integration, and expected future wages. However, none of these studies considers students’ earnings while in school as a potential determinant of retention.

The Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965 is one of the longest serving place-based regional development programs in the U.S., and is the largest in terms of geographic scope. I use county-level data from the 1960 thru 2000 Decennial Censuses to evaluate the effect of ARDA on poverty rates and real per capita incomes in Appalachia. The intent to treat parameter is identified in a difference-in-difference-in-difference framework by comparing outcomes in Appalachia to her border counties.