An EconTalk Podcast Listening Guide

Casey Mulligan on Redistribution, Unemployment, and the Labor Market

Listen to the EconTalk podcast Casey Mulligan on Redistribution, Unemployment, and the Labor Market and consider these questions.

1. Roberts begins the interview reminding listeners that there is a wide array of explanations for the recent recession and subsequent slow recovery. But Mulligan’s explanation, Roberts suggests, is different. What is Mulligan’s main argument? (Or, how have incentives for “regular families” changed?)

2. Mulligan argues that “wage stickiness” does little to help explain why the employment-population ratio has not bounced back since the recovery began. Why does Mulligan suggest as a more helpful explanation?

3. Mulligan says of the changes in unemployment policy since the recession, “there’s not a single program or single rule you can point to and give a lot of the blame.” What policy changes does Mulligan point out, and what effects have they had?

4. What does Mulligan mean when he describes what he is doing in The Redistribution Recession as positive analysis?

5. Mulligan claims that there are now approximately one to two million people who have more money to spend since having been laid off. How can this be?

6. Explain what Mulligan means when he says, “…by making unemployment less painful, the government gave employers and employees less reason to retain the jobs that we already have.”

7. How does the relationship between productivity and labor in this recession compare to that during other recessions? How does Mulligan explain this?

8. Roberts notes that not all of the unemployment program expansions benefit all types of workers equally; some are proportional. What are some examples of groups who receive relative more benefits from the expansions? What are some of the reasons Mulligan offers for their disproportionate benefits?

9. Having listened to the whole podcast, do you believe Mulligan is suggesting that unemployment is voluntary? To what extent do you agree, and why?