Bradley Hardy

Income inequality, race, and the EITC

We examine the relationship between the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Black-White after-tax income inequality from 1980-2020. The EITC lowers overall inequality by 5-10 percent in a typical year, improving the incomes of Black households relative to White households in the bottom half of the distribution. Gains in relative economic status emerged after the 1993 EITC expansion, concentrated among working class Black households, and not extending to those at the very bottom.

Money matters: Consumption volatility across the income distribution

Using data from the Consumer Expenditures Survey, we document the level and volatility of quarterly consumption across the socio-economic distribution. While the measurement of economic well-being in the United States is focused on income, the secular and policy discourse prioritizes income-adequacy to meet family needs. This concern over income adequacy centers on the capacity of individuals and families to predictably consume minimally acceptable levels of basic needs, and the social and economic mobility consequences of low levels of consumption.

EITC expansions, earnings growth, and inequality: Evidence from Washington, DC

We use longitudinal administrative tax data from Washington DC (DC) to study how EITC expansions undertaken by Washington DC affect income and inequality in the city. We find that DC EITC credit expansions between 2001 and 2009 are associated with recipient pre-tax earnings growth of roughly 3-4 percent, primarily among single mothers. Together these credits reduce post-tax inequality for the 10th percentile relative to median households. However, composition changes in the city and growing overall inequality mitigates this inequality reduction toward the end of the period.

How well does SNAP protect families against the risk of food insecurity and poor health during economic downturns?

Our research project addressed the question of how well SNAP and the social safety net protects families against the risk of food insecurity and poor health during economic downturns. Previous research has documented the relationship between reductions in family incomes and food insufficiency and has examined the effects of resources that mitigate the effects of income volatility. The U.S. social safety net, including SNAP, exists to mitigate the deleterious effects of swings in family income, particularly among low- and moderate-income households.

Decomposing trends in income volatility: The 'wild ride' at the top and bottom

We provide a detailed accounting of the trend increase in family income volatility in recent decades by quantifying the contributions of household head earnings, spouse earnings, non-transfer non-labor income, transfer income, and tax payments (inclusive of the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit), along with covariances among the income components. Using twoyear matched panels in the Current Population Survey from 1980 to 2009, we find that the volatility of family income, as measured by the variance of the arc percent change, doubled over the past three decades.

Childhood Income Volatility and Adult Outcomes

Using data linked across generations in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, I estimate the relationship between exposure to volatile income during childhood and a set of socioeconomic outcomes in adulthood. The empirical framework is an augmented intergenerational income mobility model that includes controls for income volatility. I measure income volatility at the family level in two ways. First, instability as measured by squared deviations around a family-specific mean, and then as percent changes of 25 percent or more.

Earnings volatility in America: Evidence from matched CPS

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.

Child care subsidies and the economic well-being of recipient families: A survey and implications for Kentucky

The purpose of this report is to provide a selective survey of the literature on the economic consequences of child care for recipient families, and to relate the results to families residing in Kentucky using data from the Annual Social and Economic Study in the Current Population Survey. The survey is selective both because of its exclusive focus on child care research by economists and because the literature is vast even within economics such that only articles deemed to be important contributions to the labor supply and child care literature are included.