Financial insecurity was not only a big issue in this last election, but perhaps one of the defining issues. As part-time and “gig work” have become more common, more people are experiencing the effects of income volatility: not only are their earnings not growing, they can also vary dramatically month-to-month. New research has pushed our understanding of this challenge forward, but many questions remain:
Who is most affected? What is driving the trend? What is the effect on families? How can we test and advance solutions that match the size of the problem?
The Aspen Institute’s Financial Security Program has begun to answer these questions through an evidence-based process called the Expanding Prosperity Impact Collaborative(EPIC). We’ve learned that the labor market is a primary driver of volatility, with 40% of Americans who experience monthly income swings reporting that irregular schedules are to blame. Volatility seems to hit younger, single-parent families of color harder than others. And while volatility makes it harder to manage cash flows and can trigger demand for high-cost financial credit products, it also has serious effects on the health and education outcomes of children.
In partnership with the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative and Stride Health, EPIC brought together a panel of experts from multiple sectors to, for the first time, publicly share and discuss the practical and most promising solutions to income volatility.
The event featured:
- Kristen Harknett — Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania
- Sean Kline — Director, Office of Financial Empowerment, City and County of San Francisco
- Mary Palafox — Executive Director, Red Tab Foundation
- Leigh Phillips — CEO, Earn
- John Thompson — Senior Vice President, Center for Financial Services Innovation
Learn more about income volatility with the following materials:
EPIC is an initiative of the Aspen Institute's Financial Security Program.