Long-Run Earnings Mobility among Low-Income Individuals

Brett Mullins, Mark Rider, David L. Sjoquist, Sally Wallace


We construct earnings mobility matrices for low-income individuals over 6-year and 13-year periods. Our sample of low-income individuals is drawn from the population of SNAP recipients in Georgia. Using Georgia administrative records, we identify SNAP participants in 2000 and their earnings for each year through 2013 using matched employment security records. We find that a substantial percentage of these individuals have zero earnings in both the initial and ending years. We find that there is a heavier concentration of males, whites, and disabled individuals with zero earnings in the initial and ending years than in the overall SNAP sample. This contradicts some of the characterizations of SNAP recipients in the popular press which often characterizes those stuck in poverty as single black mothers. In fact, the disabled represent the vast majority of those stuck in the no earnings category. Another interesting finding is that single mothers with zero earnings in 2000 have a greater probability, in some cases a much greater probability, of escaping the zero earnings category than the general population of SNAP recipients. We also find that individuals with positive earnings in the initial year experience substantial earnings mobility.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/jepf.v2n1p154


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