Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Yavuz Yasar, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Tracy Mott

Third Advisor

Robert Urquhart

Fourth Advisor

Bonnie Clark


Autonomous consumption, Great Depression, Great Recession, Income distribution


The Great Recession has been drawing the attention of many due mainly to its global impact that has been considered very similar to the Great Depression. So have been the root causes. Among the competing explanations, the present study focuses on two of them that were the same factors - among others - to explain the root causes of the Great Depression: the dramatic shift in income distribution and the sudden drop in autonomous (or wealth-based) consumption. Accordingly the present study examines first, the role of income distribution shifts to demonstrate the fact that such a shift placed a significantly larger share of U.S. national income in the hands of the top one percent of income recipients at the same time as median real incomes were declining that in turn led to increased reliance on Mortgage Equity Withdrawal (MEW) and increases in debt ratios for middle income households. Second, it focuses on the role of wealth-based consumption by drawing attention to the similarities of the Great Depression and the Great Recession in regard to these two topics. The study concludes that although there are competing explanations for the Great Recession, the two factors are significant due to the fact that they have the potential to turn an ordinary recession into a depression or prolong it for a very long time.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

David Michael Peterson


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

84 p.


Economics, Economic theory, Finance