Author Archives

Michelle Maroto

Research Findings

The costs of raising children and the consequences for parental wealth and inequality

July 3, 2019

Children are expensive. Almost any parent will attest to this. For 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that raising a child into adulthood cost approximately $234,000 in total for a middle-income family.

Families face many similar expenses with childrearing, which vary over the child’s lifetime. Upon the birth of a child, there are immediate costs. Parents must purchase food, clothes, and many other items to support their children on a day-to-day basis. Children bring long-term costs, too, as parents often have to save money for their children’s futures, particularly for education.

Although the costs of childrearing may be similar, families have very different resources available to attend to these costs. As a result, higher-income families tend to spend more on their children in absolute dollars, but lower-income families spend a greater proportion of their income on their children, often at a cost to their own financial wellbeing. 

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Research Findings

Why employment isn’t a good indicator of economic well-being

May 5, 2019

As expected, President Trump touted the “hottest” economy in years in his State of the Union address. As evidence for a booming economy, Trump noted that, “Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded.” And that “All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before.”

Let’s focus on a minority group with historically low rates of employment — people with disabilities — and examine some of these claims. Employment rates for people with disabilities have declined since the late-1980s. An analysis of employment trends over time also shows similar declines even when accounting for differences in age, education, and family background. Despite these overarching trends, the President claimed in his address that “Unemployment for Americans with disabilities is at an all-time low.”

To be sure, many organizations have fact checked Trump’s SOTU speech. True: unemployment among people with disabilities did decrease slightly from 10.5% to 9.2% in 2017 and rates are lower for other minority groups. This isn’t, however, a record low nor did Trump mention that unemployment among people with disabilities is still about twice as high as the rest of the population.  It also masks the fact that while unemployment may have declined, it is still highest among African Americans and Hispanics with disabilities.

The bigger problem isn’t the hyperbolic tone we’ve come to expect in a SOTU address and especially one delivered by Donald J. Trump. It’s trying to convince American voters that the economy is doing well because of increased employment.

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