Research

Construction of an Economic Index to Measure the Causes of Economic Insecurity

This paper is an updated study on the causes of economic insecurity in the United States. The authors have constructed an aggregate composite index that measures objectively the major causes of economic insecurity (CEI) in the United States. The CEI index consists of 11 variables that can cause economic insecurity. The time period under investigation is 1960 through 2001. A rising CEI index indicates that the causes of economic insecurity in the United States have increased in relative importance, which results in an increase in economic insecurity. Conversely, a falling CEI index indicates that the causes of economic insecurity have declined in relative importance, which results in a reduction of economic insecurity. However, despite substantial economic growth in the American economy from 1960 through 2001, the CEI index overall showed little improvement. The major conclusion is that the CEI index was 9 percent higher in 2001 than it was in 1960. This result was due largely to the increase in divorce, violent crime, rising out-of-pocket expenditures for health care, inflation, and unemployment. The results for subperiods are dramatically different, and we think more interesting, than the overall results. During the 1960s, there was a small decline in the CEI index. The 1970s showed a dramatic increase in the CEI index, which reflected both high unemployment rates and inflation rates during this period. The 1980s experienced fluctuating levels in the index but little overall change, and the 1990s experienced a sharp decline in the CEI index due largely to a robust economy. The CEI index has increased more recently, which reflects largely the recent 2001 business recession. The correlation coefficient of the CEI index with the University of Michigan's well-known Index of Consumer Sentiment is -676. This figure shows that as the CEI index rises, consumer sentiment about the American economy becomes pessimistic and negative.

Publication Information
Article Title: Construction of an Economic Index to Measure the Causes of Economic Insecurity
Journal: Forum for Social Economics (Sep, 2004)
Author(s): Rejda, George E;  Haley, Joseph D
Researcher Information
    
Rejda, George E
Rejda, George E
Emeritus
Expertise:
  • Insurance
Finance
CoB 423
P.O. Box 880490
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0490, USA
Phone: (402) 472-2330
Fax:
grejda1@unl.edu