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Research by SPA Associate Professor on Impact of Government Assistance Wins "Best Article"

Bradley Hardy speaking

American University School of Public Affairs Associate Professor Bradley Hardy has been honored with the Best Article Award from the Western Economic Association International (WEAI) for his research on the long-term impact of government assistance on Americans who find themselves caught in the cycle of economic expansion and recession.

“The paper takes a historical look back to the 1980s, showing that the nation’s safety net does for the most part do what it was designed to do — buffer and provide some insurance against earnings variations,” said Hardy.

Hardy, who studies the relationship between transfer programs, employment trends, and income inequality, received the award for his paper, “Income Instability and the Response of the Safety Net,” which was published in June 2018 by Contemporary Economic Policy.

The study finds that the level of instability is highest, and the reduction after transfers is largest, among low-income, black, female-headed, and lesser-educated families. For these families, the safety net has generally become less responsive relative to rising earnings instability since 1980.

Hardy's study also shows that the safety net appears more responsive over time for workers with moderate income and education beyond high school. This is consistent with studies showing that college-educated workers were better insulated from economic shocks and job loss than those with less education during the Great Recession years.

In addition to the Best Article Award, Hardy has been invited to convene a panel discussion on income inequality at the WEAI conference in San Francisco in Summer, 2019.