Working and Poor: How Economic and Policy Changes Are Affecting Low-Wage Workers.
Fourteen papers will be presented by leading economists and other social scientists on the relationship between the macroeconomy, policy changes, poverty rates, and the extent of economic need. The papers, commissioned by the National Poverty Center, utilize the most current available data to explore topics such as:
- The boom of the 1990s: how fully – and in what ways – were less-skilled persons able to take advantage of this economic expansion? What were the limits to poverty reduction through economic expansion? What effects have other economic changes – such as changes in technology, in trade, or in immigration – brought about for low skilled workers?
- How has economic expansion and recession interacted with other key indicators of economic well being, such as changes in consumption or debt, or changes in family formation and household structure?
- How have key areas of policy interacted with macroeconomic changes and affected the well-being of low-wage workers? Papers will discuss tax policy, unemployment insurance, health insurance, and child support policies.
Agenda and conference papers
Sponsors and organizers
The project is supported by funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation and by a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
The research project and conference are organized for the National Poverty Center by:
Rebecca Blank, Co-director of the NPC and Henry Carter Adams Collegiate Professor and Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School
Sheldon Danziger, Co-director of the NPC and Henry J. Meyer Distinguished University Professor at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Robert Schoeni, Associate Director of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, and Associate Professor in the Department of Economics and the Ford School
Participants will include researchers, federal and state policy makers and policy analysts, and practitioners.
About the edited volume
The Russell Sage Foundation will publish the conference papers in 2006, in a volume edited by Blank, Danziger, and Schoeni. The editors' introduction will provide an overview of the research and a discussion of the policy implications of the papers. Two key policy questions are 'What is the role for government policies in offsetting the effects of economic contractions on low-income populations?' and 'What is the role for government policies in sustaining and enhancing the anti-poverty effects of economic growth?'
After the event
See the agenda page to access papers and discussant comments from the conference.
This event is by invitation only. For more details please contact
The NPC's sleeping room block at the conference hotel is limited to speakers and other invited guests. We cannot reserve any rooms for general conference participants, so we encourage you to secure your own accommodations soon.
For more information
Please contact the National Poverty Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Agenda: (as of May 12)
Thursday, June 9, 2005
- 7:45-8:45 Continental Breakfast (West Lobby)
Registration (Salon A)
8:45-9:15 Welcome and Opening Remarks (Salon A)
Session 1: The Economic Environment (Salon A)
Chair: Sheldon Danziger, University of Michigan
Paper 1: The Macroeconomy and Determinants of the Earnings of Less-Skilled Workers. Robert E. Hall, Stanford University
Discussant: Lawrence Katz, Harvard University
Paper 2: The Impact of Technological Change on LowWage Workers: A Review. David Card, University of California, Berkeley and John DiNardo, University of Michigan
Discussant: Joe Altonji, Yale University. View Altonji's presentation.
Session 2: The Impact of Gender, Ethnicity, and Race (Salon A)
Chair: Robert Schwab, University of Maryland
Paper 1: Wage Trends among Disadvantaged Minorities. George Borjas, Harvard University.
Discussant: Steve Raphael, University of California, Berkeley. View Rahael's Presentation.
Paper 2: Exploring Gender Differences in Employment and Wage Trends Among Less-Skilled Workers. Rebecca Blank, University of Michigan, and Heidi Shierholz, University of Michigan.
Discussant: Claudia Goldin, Harvard University
12:30-1:45 Lunch (Faculty Club)
Session 3: Moving Through the Labor Market (Salon A)
Chair: Harry Holzer, Georgetown University
Paper 1: The Changing Pattern of Wage Growth for Low Skilled Workers. Eric French and Bhashkar Mazunder, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; Christopher Taber, Northwestern University.
Discussant: Peter Gottschalk, Boston College. View Gottschalk's PowerPoint presentation.
Paper 2: Temporary Agency Employment as a Way out of Poverty? David Autor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Susan Houseman, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
Discussant: Mary Corcoran, University of Michigan
Session 4: Sources of Income
Chair: Doug Besharov, University of Maryland and the American Enterprise Institute
Paper 1: The Level and Composition of Consumption Over the Business Cycle: The Role of 'Quasi-Fixed' Expenditures. Kerwin Charles, University of Michigan and Mel Stephens, Carnegie Mellon University.
Discussant: Christopher Jencks, Harvard University. View Jencks' PowerPoint Presentation.
Paper 2: Recent Trends in Resource Sharing among the PoorSteven J. Haider, Michigan State University and Kathleen McGarry, University of California, Los Angeles and NBER
Discussant: Jonathan Gruber, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
5:00-6:30 Reception (Salon B)
Friday, June 10, 2005
- 7:30-8:15 Continental Breakfast (West Lobby)
Session 5: Paying In and Receiving Back (Salon A)
Chair: Ron Haskins, Brookings Institution
Paper 1: State Spending on Social Assistance Programs Over the Business Cycle. Therese J. McGuire, Northwestern University and David F. Merriman, Loyola University - Chicago.
Discussant: Julie Berry Cullen, University of California, San Diego.
Paper 2: How Do Tax Policies Affect Low Income Workers? Kevin Hassett, American Enterprise Institute and Anne Moore, American Enterprise Institute.
Discussant: John Karl Scholz, University of Wisconsin - Madison. View Scholz's PowerPoint Presentation.
Session 6: Families and Family Structure (Salon A)
Chair: Donald Oellerich, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
Paper 1: Economic Conditions and Children's Living Arrangements Robert W. Fairlie, University of California Santa Cruz, and Rebecca A. London, University of California Santa Cruz.
Discussant: Jonah Gelbach, Maryland. View Gelbach's presentation.
Paper 2: Child Support and the Economy. Maria Cancian, University of Wisconsin - Madison and Daniel R. Meyer, University of Wisconsin - Madison.
Discussant: Ronald Mincy, Columbia University.
Lunch and keynote speaker, Michael O'Grady, PhD, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Salon E) View O'Grady's PowerPoint presentation.
Session 7: Unemployment and Health Insurance (Salon A)
Chair: Robert Schoeni, University of Michigan
Paper 1: Unemployment Insurance Over the Business Cycle: Does it Meet the Needs of Less-Skilled Workers? Philip Levine, Wellesley College.
Discussant: Justin McCrary, University of Michigan.
Paper 2: How Is Health Insurance Affected by the Economy? Public and Private Coverage Among Low-Skilled Adults in the 1990s. Helen Levy, University of Michigan.
Discussant: Rucker Johnson, University of California, Berkeley. View Johnson's PowerPoint Presentation.
Rapporteur and final discussion