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The Redistribution Recession: How Labor Market Distortions Contracted the Economy Hardcover – November 2, 2012


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The Redistribution Recession: How Labor Market Distortions Contracted the Economy + A Nation of Takers: America's Entitlement Epidemic + "Trickle Down Theory" and "Tax Cuts for the Rich"
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (November 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199942218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199942213
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #714,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Much of the policy reaction to the Great Recession emphasized Keynesian effects on aggregate demand and downplayed individual incentives to work, produce, and invest. In contrast, Casey Mulligan's research focuses on how an expanded array of U.S. safety-net programs-food stamps, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, and housing/mortgage assistance programs-raised effective marginal income-tax rates especially for poor families. These diminished incentives to work help to explain the weakness of the U.S. economic recovery since the end of the recession in 2009 and also explain why Barack Obama is justifiably called the 'Food-Stamp President.' Hopefully, future government policymakers will deliver better results by learning from this important book." --Robert J. Barro, Paul M. Warburg Professor of Economics, Harvard University


"Professor Mulligan analyzes the question of why has labor supply remained low and unemployment remained high during the current recession. He finds that the expansion of government safety net programs along with their associated high marginal tax rates, decreases the economic incentives for labor supply. The question at issue is how much of the decrease in labor supply arises from these effects and their associated redistribution of income compared to the decreases in demand in sectors such as construction and manufacturing? He concludes that it is possible that nearly all or at least much of the decline in labor usage can be attributed to expansion of the social safety net. I highly recommend this sure to be controversial analysis of the effects of the Great Recession. Professor Mulligan has provided an innovative analysis of our current economic woes, which should cause most economists to rethink their views of what has gone wrong." --Jerry Hausman, McDonald Professor of Economics, MIT


"Casey Mulligan's The Redistribution Recession presents a heterodox perspective on the Great Recession. The book argues that redistributive and other policies enacted to help cushion the blow of the financial and housing market collapses have reduced incentives to work, and thus had the unintended consequence of significantly lengthening and deepening the recession. The rich set of empirical analyses that Mulligan presents in support of this argument challenges the view that the problem of recovering from the Great Recession remains solely one of insufficient aggregate demand. Moreover, the analysis will likely provide a foundation for future research on the Great Recession and how policymakers responded to it." --David Neumark, Chancellor's Professor of Economics and Director, Center for Economics & Public Policy, University of California-Irvine


"The endless campaign rhetoric on what to do about the recent recession left many wondering who or what was at fault. This book is an excellently researched attempt to provide an answer. Though the explanations and conclusions Mulligan presents are accessible to general readers, the methodology and econometric analysis require sophisticated training. This book provides a wealth of scholarly data and analysis...highly recommended."--CHOICE


"While by no means presenting the whole story (as Mulligan himself agrees), the book challenges many of the widely accepted views of the Great Recession... the book unquestionably presents serious economic analyses, thus taking the discussion to a more sophisticated level." --Journal of Regional Science


About the Author


Professor of Economics, University of Chicago, author of Parental Priorities and Economic Inequality, weekly contributor to Economix blog for the New York Times

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Sinohey TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Unlike the two previous reviewers I have actually read the book. The author is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago who has written extensively about the gender wage gap, the economics of aging, Social Security, capital and labor taxation and voting. Professor Mulligan is the recipient of numerous awards including the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, The John M. Olin Foundation and the National Science Foundation. He is not a supporter of Keynesian economics and is considered by many to be the antithesis of Paul Krugman.

The thrust of this book is that the overly generous social safety net programs have caused the lethargic recovery from the recession and intractably high unemployment rate. Mulligan believes that redistribution of wealth undermined the incentive to work and damaged productivity.

The Obama administration's excessive levels of spending, with the complicity of Congress, have caused a rise in unemployment much higher than it would have been otherwise.
Since 2007, many essential traits of the economy and the labor market have changed radically. Congress raised the minimum wage three times in the past five years, thus increasing the cost of labor and decreasing the available number of jobs. With the exception of Medicaid, subsidies bestowed on the unemployed in the forms of loan forgiveness and government transfers almost tripled. The liberality of mean-tested subsidies like food stamps and unemployment insurance has steadily increased. Consumer loans, mortgages, business debts and tax debts forgiveness has been vastly expanded and "government transfers almost tripled". The average yearly benefit for not working rose from $10,000 in 2007 to $16,000 in 2009 and keeps on growing.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Richard Carlson on August 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Possibly the most important economics book of the decade but an incredibly difficult read. If you don't have a graduate degree in economics, as I do, you'll find it the toughest read of your life. Equation on top of equation, dense prose, obtuse diagrams, confusing tables; all the necessary ingredients to drive the average reader insane. But the content is wonderful! With vast detail and brilliant analysis, the author demonstrates how the government turned a bad recession into an unemployment nightmare. That's on top of the Goldman Sachs Demopublicans bailing out Wall Street at the expense of Main Street. Furthermore, these results strongly support the growing fear that Obamacare will be another unemployment disaster. If you believe it's an accident that Obamacare's employer provisions have been suspended for the coming election year, I have a bridge to sell you.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Robert Howland on February 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a guess, the book contains maybe 100 formulas, including a couple apparently using calculus, about 50 graphs and maybe 25 tables. This is not an accessible book for the common folk or even people with PhDs in other fields. Think of it as a journal article that is too long for a peer-reviewed journal. You have been warned.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Carlos Eugjnio Ellery L da Costa on March 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While the focus of most discussions following the crisis has (correctly, in my opinion) be centered in the financial markets, too little attention has been paid to how the policy responses affect incentives in labor supply. The general presumption seems to be that labor market frictions explain all that is going on in this market. Although we need not agree with the whole analysis, as usual, Casey Mulligan comes up with a different angle that should not be dismissed, but closely scrutinized.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Zaleski on February 19, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent and original. As a fellow economist I devoured the book and its content. Real, accurate and easy to read. Totally explains the labor changes due to tech, etc
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22 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Taylor Davidson on January 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Don't be haters people! You may not like Dr. Mulligans conclusions but they are straight from the data. When you increase, at the margin, the compensation available for being unemployed, you will increase, at the margin, the number of people who remain unemployed.

One of Dr. Mulligan's most important insights is the disproportionate toll these welfare policies have had on younger Americans.

Buy this book and read it!
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37 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Barton J Levin on November 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
before submitting a review. B Edwards gave this book two stars after admitting that he hadn't read it. He claims the price is too high. My review is based on nothing other than his review. If Amazon is willing to allow someone to trash a book based only on its price, I should be able to laud it, if only to offset the earlier review.
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