All levels of American Families Reeling From Economic “Shock”

More than 93% of American households experienced “substantial economic shock” in 2008-2009, according to a Rockefeller Foundation-supported study headed by political science professor Jacob Hacker.

The study report, titled “Standing on Shaky Ground: Americans’ Experiences with Economic Insecurity,” was launched at a press event at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 14. According to organizers of the event, the study, which is the first to detail the impact of economic insecurity on the well-being of Americans, suggests that increased risk of economic hardship has become the rule, not the exception, for many Americans — even in good times.

The innovative survey is a follow-up to the pioneering Economic Security Index (ESI) report of July 2010.

“This new report shows the extent to which American families have been rocked by economic shocks whose consequences include not just worry but also real economic hardship,” says Hacker, the Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science. “This report dashes the notion that economic disruption is limited to lower-income families by revealing that many middle-class and even upper-middle-class families are unable to meet basic economic needs.”

“Shaky Ground” was written by Hacker and fellow Yale political science professor Mark Schlesinger, along with Philipp Rehm of Ohio State University.

For the full report, visit

The press event included a panel discussion with Hacker and Schlesinger; Stuart Butler, director of The Heritage Foundation; Ezra Klein, columnist and blogger at the Washington Post; and Lawrence Mishel, president, Economic Policy Institute. James Fallows, national correspondent of The Atlantic and board member of the New America Foundation, was panel moderator.

In presenting the report to the panel, Schlesinger, who is also a fellow of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale, stressed that although hardships experienced by the majority of American families have been sharpened by the economic downturn, many of the risks that plague Americans are “resistant and persistent.”

*Source: Yale University

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