Article: Michael S. Barr & Daniel Schaffa, Nothing Left to Lose? Changes Experienced by Detroit Low- and Moderate-Income Households During the Great Recession, Washington Center for Equitable Growth (Sept. 2016).
The Financial Crisis and ensuing Great Recession caused enormous hardship for households. Using original datasets, we examine the effects of the recession on a population many might think had nothing left to lose: low- and moderate-income households in the Detroit metropolitan area. We find that the Great Recession in fact imposed significant costs on these households, reducing employment and assets and increasing hardships in a wide variety of ways. Our findings suggest the need for more robust safety net policies and financial services that can help cushion the blows from sharp reductions in incomes and assets.
New Article: Colleen F. Shanahan, Anna E. Carpenter & Alyx Mark, Lawyers, Power, and Strategic Expertise, 93 Denv. U. L. Rev. 469 (2016). Abstract below:
This empirical study analyzes the experience of the parties described above, specifically the power, representation, and strategic expertise they bring to a dispute. Our analysis of these factors clarifies how representation may be a solution to the access to justice crisis. We find that a representative helps most parties most of the time. We also find that the other party’s representation and the representative’s strategic expertise are significant factors for understanding representation for civil litigants.
This study analyzes a database of 1,700 unemployment insurance appeals in the District of Columbia over a two-year period, the broadest and deepest collection of data about representation in recent years. The analysis shows wide disparity in representation, with employers (the more powerful party to a dispute or the quintessential “haves”) represented twice as often as claimants (the less powerful party or the “have nots”), as well as a notable difference in parties’ use of procedures in hearings. Using difference-in-proportions tests, this Article examines the interaction of party power and representation and finds that represented parties have better case outcomes than unrepresented parties, though employers see less benefit from legal representation than claimants. In addition, the Article confirms the intuitive result that represented parties are more likely to use procedures than unrepresented parties. Yet, surprisingly, the Article finds that represented claimants who use certain evidentiary procedures have worse case outcomes than represented claimants who do not use those same procedures.
We recommend that any policy solution to the country’s civil litigation crisis, whether it is a right to civil counsel, unbundled legal services, lay advocacy, or pro se court reform, must account for these factors. To achieve this goal, we call for a deeper understanding of representation in context.
Article: Jared F. Knight, “Is Tax Increment Financing Racist? The Racially Disparate Impact in Chicago’s TIF Spending,” 101 Iowa L. Rev. 1681 (2016).
Tax-Increment Financing (TIF) is a financing tool used by cities large and small across the country. Chicago, whose history includes several instances of de jure and de facto racial discrimination, is an especially prolific TIF user. This Note examines TIF distribution in each of Chicago’s 50 wards. Both a regression analysis and full population data show that White wards receive substantially greater TIF allocations than Black and Hispanic wards. To solve this disparity, this Note proposes amending the Illinois TIF statute to narrow the circumstances in which TIF is available. This Note further proposes changing Chicago’s TIF allocation process to restrict TIF dollars to wards experiencing extreme poverty and wards with little racial disparity, concluding that the latter is the best and fastest short-term option to correct the imbalance.
News Article: Patricia Cohen, “Millions in U.S. Climb Out of Poverty, at Long Last, ” New York Times, Sept. 25, 2016.
Posted in Economic Crisis, Economic Mobility, Economics, Employment, Family, Inequality, Minimum Wage, News Coverage of Poverty, Politics, Socio-Economic Rights, Uncategorized, Wealthy
Article: Michele E. Gilman, “En-Gendering Economic Inequality,” Colum. J. Gender & L. (forthcoming).
We live in an era of growing economic inequality. Luminaries ranging from the President to the Pope to economist Thomas Piketty in his bestselling book Capital in the Twenty- First Century have raised alarms about the disparity between the haves and the have-nots. Overlooked, however, in these important discussions is the reality that economic inequality is not a uniform experience; rather, its effects fall more harshly on women and minorities. With regard to gender, American women have higher rates of poverty and get paid less than comparable men, and their workplace participation rates are falling. Yet economic inequality is neither inevitable nor intractable. Given that the government creates the rules of the market, it is essential to analyze the government’s role in perpetuating economic inequality.
This Article specifically examines the role of the Supreme Court in contributing to gender based economic inequality. The thesis is that the Supreme Court applies oversimplified economic assumptions about the market in its decision-making, thereby perpetuating economic inequality on the basis of gender. Applying insights of feminist economic theory, the Article analyzes recent Supreme Court jurisprudence about women workers, including Wal-Mart v. Dukes (denying class certification to female employees who were paid and promoted less than men), Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (granting business owners the right to deny contraception coverage to female employees on religious grounds), and Harris v. Quinn (limiting the ability of home health care workers to unionize and thereby improve their working conditions). In these cases, the Court elevates its narrow view of efficiency over more comprehensive understandings, devalues care work, upholds harmful power imbalances, and ignores the intersectional reality of the lives of low-wage women workers. The Article concludes that the Court is eroding collective efforts by women to improve their working conditions and economic standing. It suggests advocacy strategies for reforming law to obtain economic justice for women and their families.
New Chart Book: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Chart Book: TANF at 20,” Aug. 5, 2016.
New Article: Sarah K. Bruch, Marcia K. Meyers, Janet C. Gornick, “Separate and Unequal: The Dimensions and Consequences of Safety Net Decentralization in the U.S. 1994-2014,” Institute for Research on Poverty (Aug. 2016).
In this paper, we examine the dimensions and consequences of decentralized social safety net policies. We consider the adequacy of benefits and inclusiveness of receipt for eleven federal-state programs that constitute the core of safety net provision for working age adults and families: cash assistance, food assistance, health insurance, child support, child care, preschool/early education, unemployment insurance, state income taxes, cash assistance work assistance, disability assistance, and housing assistance. In the first part of the paper we examine the extent of cross-state inequality in social provision. We find substantial variation across states; variation that is consistent with policy design differences in state discretion; and at levels equal to or greater than variation across the European countries that have been recognized as having different welfare regimes. In the second section, we turn to an analysis of change over time (1994 to 2014) examining four dimensions of convergence: degree, location of change, direction of change, and scope. We find both decreases (retrenchment) and increases (expansions) of provision, a handful of cases of convergence (decreasing inequality) and divergence (increasing inequality), and a great deal of synchronous change and persistence in the magnitude of cross state inequalities.
Posted in Articles, Children, Economic Mobility, Education, Employment, Family, Health, housing, Inequality, Measuring Poverty, Reports, Socio-Economic Rights, Uncategorized, Welfare
News Article: Paul Krugman, “Obama’s Trickle-Up Economics,” New York Times, Sept. 16, 2016 [summarizing the Census Bureau report showing Obama’s progressive economic policies have been largely successful].