James P. Ziliak

The Appalachian Regional Development Act and economic change

The Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965 is one of the longest serving place-based regional development programs in the U.S., and is the largest in terms of geographic scope. I use county-level data from the 1960 thru 2000 Decennial Censuses to evaluate the effect of ARDA on poverty rates and real per capita incomes in Appalachia. The intent to treat parameter is identified in a difference-in-difference-in-difference framework by comparing outcomes in Appalachia to her border counties.

Senior hunger in the United States: Differences across states and rural and urban areas

Many pressing questions remain regarding the extent, causes, and consequences of senior hunger in America.  Is the threat of senior hunger common across all states in the nation?  Are there differences in hunger risk across urban and rural areas?  In this follow-up study to our 2008 report entitled The Causes, Consequences, and Future of Senior Hunger in America we document the geographic distribution of senior hunger across states and metropolitan location.

Down from the mountain: Skill upgrading and wages in Appalachia

Despite evidence that skilled labor is increasingly concentrated in cities, whether regional wage inequality is predominantly due to differences in skill levels or returns is unknown. We compare Appalachia, with its wide mix of urban and rural areas, to other parts of the U.S., and find that gaps in both skill levels and returns account for the lack of high wage male workers. For women, skill shortages are important across the distribution. Because rural wage gaps are insignificant, our results suggest that widening wage inequality between Appalachia and the rest of the U.S.

Child care subsidies and the economic well-being of recipient families: A survey and implications for Kentucky

The purpose of this report is to provide a selective survey of the literature on the economic consequences of child care for recipient families, and to relate the results to families residing in Kentucky using data from the Annual Social and Economic Study in the Current Population Survey. The survey is selective both because of its exclusive focus on child care research by economists and because the literature is vast even within economics such that only articles deemed to be important contributions to the labor supply and child care literature are included.

Rhetoric and reality of the minimum wage: Implications for Kentucky

The minimum wage is among the more hotly debated public policies in the United States, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky is no exception. Supporters point to the anti-poverty and social justice benefits of the minimum wage, while opponents point to the costs of possible labor-market dislocation and undesirability of government intervention in private markets. As background for the ensuing discussion it is instructive to examine how the poorest Kentuckians and the typical Kentuckian have fared in recent years in terms of economic status.

Understanding poverty rates and gaps: Concepts, trends, and challenges

I survey key developments in applied and theoretical research on poverty rates and poverty gaps over the past two decades, and provide a detailed analysis of poverty trends across of variety of income measures and poverty indexes. Included is an extensive summary of how poverty thresholds and economic resources are measured and several proposed recommendations for revision. In addition I discuss axiomatically derived alternatives to the standard poverty rate that provide estimates not only of the incidence of poverty, but also the intensity and the inequality of poverty.

Does Food Stamp receipt mediate the relationship between food insufficiency and mental health

Although the Food Stamp Program is the largest entitlement program remaining in the social safety net, comparatively little is known about the potential benefits that the program may confer on recipients. In this paper we examine an important dimension of well being, mental health, and the extent to which participation in the Food Stamp Program may attenuate the effect of food insufficiency on levels of emotional distress.

Filling the poverty gap, then and now

The extent to which means-tested transfers, social insurance, and tax credits fill the gap between family’s private resources and the poverty threshold is a periodic barometer of the social safety net. Using data on families from the Current Population Survey I examine how the level and composition of before- and after-tax and after-transfer poverty gaps changed in response to changes in the policy and economic landscapes over the past two decades.