Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Economics, Applied

First Advisor

Arjun Jayadev

Second Advisor

Kade Finnoff

Third Advisor

Charalampos Konstantinidis


Working class Americans have struggled to afford necessary goods and services in lieu of stagnating wages and a scant safety net. American workers have made up the difference with a borrowing binge that has operated in tandem with the precarious economic situation of working class households, especially after the Great Recession. This thesis uses the Survey of Consumer Finances from 1992 to 2013 and the 2007-2009 SCF Panel to evaluate household credit and debt among the working class using a political economy perspective. In particular, this thesis will examine the relationship between the working class and financial markets in the United States. To what extent does working class status correlate with higher levels of financial stress? A descriptive and econometric analysis will be used to evaluate this question. The logistic regression analysis shows that working class households are 1.9 times as likely to be more financially stressed than non-working class households in the period of 1992-2013. These results suggest the broad need for policies designed to mitigate financial stress and empower working class households to maintain decent standards of living.


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