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Standing on Shaky Ground

The Rockefeller Foundation, the New America Foundation, and Yale University economic security expert Jacob Hacker are pleased to invite you to attend the launch of Standing on Shaky Ground: Americans' Experiences with Economic Insecurity. This report is the first study to detail how economic insecurity affects the well-being of Americans, based on a new two-wave survey of Americans that examines their experiences and perceptions between March 2008 and September 2009. The innovative survey is a follow-up to the pioneering Economic Security Index (ESI) report of July 2010. While the original ESI report revealed the breadth and persistence of American economic insecurity, little is known about how Americans experience and cope with economic insecurity. Standing on Shaky Ground fills this knowledge gap, drawing insights from a cross-disciplinary team of scholars. For the first time, it enumerates the ways in which insecurity is experienced by Americans in four distinct domains of economic life: employment, medical spending, family needs, and wealth. The study shows that a strikingly large share of American experience substantial economic "shocks" (such as loss of a job or disruptions of health coverage), that these shocks often occur simultaneously across multiple domains and persist over time, and that these shocks frequently leave a deep imprint on Americans' lives, their ability to meet basic needs, and their expectations and concerns for the future. Standing on Shaky Ground is a follow-up to the Economic Security Index (ESI). The ESI, launched in July, 2010, is the first index to provide a unified measure of the economic insecurity of American families. The ESI demonstrated that economic insecurity for American families in 2009 and 2010 was greater than at any time on record, with approximately one in five Americans experiencing a 25 percent or greater decline in available household income.
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