Since the beginning of The Great Recession it is difficult to imagine an area of life that the economic crisis as not impact. It has thinned the wallets and bank accounts of many and even turned our attention away from once pressing matters such as the climate. Countless articles have been written about this topic in an attempt to make sense of this catastrophe and explain what is going on to the public at large. Two articles in particular make an attempt to explain very opposite ends of this chaotic financial spectrum. One attempts to shed light on household formation while the other explains why the population may be less concerned with climate change.
In an article by Timothy Dunne, titled “Household Formation in the Great Recession”, published in Economic Commentary readers can try to make sense of how the current economic climate has had an impact on basic functions like starting a family. Reportedly, from the years of 1997 to 2007, only 1.5 million households were formed in the United States, falling at about 500,000 per years since the recession began. In previous years, the overall rate of household formation was 2.9 million. This drop in numbers naturally suggests a weakening economy. People are less likely to get married or start a family if they lack the means to do so and the numbers reflected that.
In order to be certain, many variables were taken into account when collecting the data. Researchers graphed the rate of household formation between the years of 1981 and 2011 in order to discern whether there were any trends in rising and falling rates. They discovered that the lowest rate of household formation occurred in 2010, falling below half of a million. The highest rate of household formations occurred in 2000, at just over 2.5 million household formations. A headship rate was also monitored by researchers. Headship rate refers to probability that the person is the head of the household. This means that the decrease in household formation may have been due to children leaving the nest. If the head of household remained, it should not be included in the official rate. However, the headship rate only fell 1.3 percent, which was not enough to matter to the household formation rate.
Researchers also monitored how the recession impacted ages of the average homeowner. Studies showed that between the years of 1995 and 2011, it was between 2000 and 2005 that saw the greatest increase in homeowners under 25. This rate coincided with the recession as well as the temporary rise in household formations seen in 2000. The homes purchased by homeowners after 2000 were probably in preparation for their growing families but the article is quick to point out that after the real estate collapse many lost their homes and divorce rates began to climb again. “Household formation and The Great Recession shows that though the economy is on the supposed upswing, things are not going our way.
The article entitled “Declining Public Concern About the Climate Chance: Can We Blame the Great Recession?” written by Lyle Scruggs and Salil Benegal and published in Global Environmental Change seeks to explain the psychological and mental distraction the great recession has provided. Things that once seemed important, such as environmental activism, have now been swept under the rug. The authors sought to examine whether or not something as dramatic as the country’s economic state could be at fault for this.
The article conducted surveys that suggest public concern for the world’s climate has gone down since 2008. The reason for this was originally thought to be because the public no longer trusted climate data. However, upon reevaluating nearly 30 years of data related to public opinion about the climate, in correlation to times of economic crisis there was a connection. Economic insecurity causes the public to doubt most of the information they are being told, not only about finances but about the climate. Researchers found the same connection to be true in European countries. An economic disaster always led the public to have a crisis in confidence toward its political leaders and officials in general. Biased media coverage often followed times of economic crisis, increasing these intense feelings of distrust. Research showed that for the United States as well as in European countries, public opinion of crises such as climate change often rebounded after the country’s economy stabilized and the population regained trust in the information they were being given.
If the articles are any indication, the Recession can impact more than just a country’s wallet. The first article showed how the essential foundation to build a family can be an impossibility when the economy becomes unstable. What is worse, if one manages to build a family; the economy has the power to reverse all of that hard work, ruining marriages, childhoods, and credit scores. The second article shows that economic crises can cloud our judgment and make us distrusting. We begin questioning who we trust and even stop believing in causes that once made us feel passionate about getting out of bed in the morning. It is clear that the recession, though a supposedly good thing, still holds its fair share of trials for everybody involved.
Dunne, Timothy. "Household Formation in the Great Recession." 23 August 2012. Economic Commentary. 19 February 2014.