Over at Learn Liberty, I take on the recent kerfuffle over intergenerational mobility. Some scholars and journalists are saying that the U.S. has a major "problem" with mobility because its "churn" numbers (the rate at which children of rich parents fall into lower income deciles and children of poor parents rise into higher ones) are … Continue reading Intergenerational Mobility Isn’t Always a Good Thing
Many people are concerned about income and wealth inequality. I am not concerned about economic inequality as such; I care about absolute poverty (how many people live in misery because of wretched physical conditions), and I care about a broad distribution of opportunity (everyone's having a "fair shot" at economic success), but I don't see … Continue reading Putting Economic Inequality in Perspective
Graduation is upon us. Many of my students are graduating with higher student loan debt than they would have imagined and limited job prospects. A few weeks back when I discussed future plans with several graduating seniors, there was a sense of dismay and a sense that the odds were against them given the poor … Continue reading The Other 99 Percent
In my last post, I said "total net social spending" included net public spending and mandatory private social spending. In fact, it includes voluntary private social expenditures as well. The U.S. has by far the highest voluntary social expenditures in the OECD, so if you subtract those out, the U.S. net public and mandatory private … Continue reading More on OECD Welfare States
It appears that President Obama’s address on inequality was the beginning of a larger move to the left and an embrace of economic populism. As Edward-Issac Dovere (Politico) explains: [Obama is] connecting to progressive populism with an aggressive, spending-oriented, activist government approach to the economy personified by Elizabeth Warren and Bill de Blasio. Obama’s already … Continue reading Left Turn (Reducing Inequality, continued)
Last week, President Obama gave a speech on economic mobility and argued that addressing economic inequality was “the defining challenge of our time.” He stated: But we know that people’s frustrations run deeper than these most recent political battles. Their frustration is rooted in their own daily battles -- to make ends meet, to pay … Continue reading Reducing Inequality: America’s Number One Priority?
I have great respect and (in many cases) affection for my friends at Bleeding Hearts Libertarians. But I am not a bleeding heart libertarian, and from the outset I have resisted its siren song, mostly over its endorsement of “social justice” as a moral and/or political ideal. Unlike Hayek, I do not think the concept … Continue reading Social justice as an emergent property
Roger Koppl argues this week at ThinkMarkets that “Income inequality matters.” He thinks it matters so much that he says it twice. He believes “Austrian,” pro-market, economic liberals should be speaking up more on this “central issue.” I think Koppl could not be more wrong. The issue deserves all the inattention we can muster for … Continue reading Income Inequality Doesn’t Matter
In my last post on this topic, I described an ideal system of federalism and its advantages and disadvantages. One of the concerns that progressives often have about this kind of federalism, which I wish to take seriously, is that it will lead to a growing gap between the incomes of rich and poor regions … Continue reading Federalism & Inequality, Part Two
Constitutional debates swirling around the PPACA's individual mandate have much to do with federalism. The core issue the Supreme Court is addressing is whether the federal government has essentially unlimited authority in economic policy, or whether they are yet some areas of economic policy-making (such as whether to compel commerce) exclusive to the states. As … Continue reading Federalism & Inequality, Part One
Scott Winship has an interesting essay (lead story in this week’s print National Review but also available here) entitled “Mobility Impaired: The American Dream Must Move From the Bottom Up.” This is an issue that seems quite important to my students, many of whom are wondering whether the $50k+ per year education will bear fruit. … Continue reading The Question of Upward Mobility
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz argued recently that both the economic downturn of the last two years and the looming debt crisis are the fault of "a powerful ideology---the belief in free and unfettered markets," whose "30-year ascendance" has "brought the world to the brink of economic ruin." As an economist, I can't hold a … Continue reading Stiglitz on Deregulation and the Rich
The latest Economist has an interesting feature on inequalities among regions within countries. The article compares countries on their ranges in GDP per head (the ratio of richest region to poorest). Thus, we get charts like the following: But range is an extremely crude concept for measuring inequality. In the U.S., the District of Columbia … Continue reading Regional Inequality
Well, my guest blogging stint here has gone somewhat awry. My post on trade relations was sent in Tuesday morning last week, my time. By serendipity, the University's public relations office called a half hour later asking if I could do an interview with Canterbury Television that afternoon on US-NZ trade relations. I said I … Continue reading Rumble Rumble
Having slammed Ron Bailey's "oil curse" thesis a few days ago, it now behooves me to give him kudos for an interesting piece interpreting political economy models of democratic transition and consolidation in light of the popular uprisings in the Middle East. Check it out; it's well worth your time.
Is the U.S. exceptionally unequal? Quite the opposite - among New World countries with a history of slavery, the U.S. has by far the lowest income inequality.