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Cover for Third/Fourth Quarter 2016 issue

March 20, 2017

Richmond Fed’s Econ Focus Looks at Economics Over the Life Cycle

The latest issue of Econ Focus, the economics magazine of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, looks at the economic situations Americans face at various points in their lives — and considers the implications for economic policy and household finance.

Articles in the issue include:

  • Millennial finance. Many millennials entered the workforce in the midst of the Great Recession and the collapse of the housing market. Observers worry that these forces, combined with burdens like mounting student debt, are stunting millennials’ financial development.  What do current demographic trends and the current economic environment mean for this group?
  • Women at work. The share of women participating in the U.S. labor force has been dropping since 2000. But in most developed economies, the rate has been rising since the early 1990s. Why is the U.S. labor market for women different — and what can policymakers learn from efforts abroad to help women stay in the workforce?
  • Life expectancy. Life expectancy has increased dramatically over the past century. But some groups of people appear to be falling behind, including less-educated whites. Researchers have studied multiple explanations.
  • The life cycle hypothesis. In economics, the life cycle hypothesis states that people save money while they are young to draw upon as they age. Even though research has found that the reality is more complicated, this simple theory still provides an important foundation for understanding how consumers behave over their lifetimes.
  • Interview. Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Jonathan Parker discusses whether households smooth their consumption over time as economic theory predicts, why the incomes of wealthy households have become more sensitive to the business cycle and the macroeconomic effects of fiscal policy choices during recessions.
  • More. Economic issues affecting the Fifth Federal Reserve District and the nation.

For a free subscription to Econ Focus or for copies of the magazine, call (800) 322-0565 or subscribe online. The articles also are available online.


As part of our nation’s central bank, the Richmond Fed is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks working together with the Board of Governors to support a healthy economy and deliver on our mission to foster economic stability and strength. We connect with community and business leaders across the Fifth Federal Reserve District—including the Carolinas, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and most of West Virginia—to monitor economic conditions, address issues facing our communities, and share this information with monetary and financial policymakers. We also work with banks to ensure they are operating safely and soundly, supply financial institutions with currency that’s fit for distribution, and provide a safe and efficient way to transfer funds through our nation’s payments system.

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