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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

'Rethinking the Rise of Inequality'

Are "educational disparities are a main driver of economic inequality"?:

Rethinking the Rise of Inequality, by Eduardo Porter, NY Times: In a poll conducted last month by the College Board and National Journal: ... “It is absolutely clear that educational wage differentials have not driven wage inequality over the last 15 years,” said Lawrence Mishel, who heads the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal-leaning center for economic policy analysis. “Wage inequality has grown a lot over the last 15 years and the educational wage premium has changed little.”
The standard analysis of the interplay between technology and education, developed by economists like Lawrence Katz and Claudia Goldin..., and David Autor..., suggests that improvements in technology — coupled with a college graduation rate that slowed sharply in the 1980s — have been principal drivers of the nation’s widening income gap, leaving workers with less education behind.
But critics like Mr. Mishel point out that this theory has important blind spots. For instance, why have wages for college graduates stagnated over the last decade, even as innovation continues at a breathtaking pace? ...
Most notably, the skills-and-tech story leaves aside one of the most perplexing and important dynamics of the last 30 years: the rise of the 1 percent, a tiny sliver of the population that last year took in almost a dollar out of every $4 generated by the American economy. ...
Mr. Mishel’s preferred explanation of inequality’s rise is institutional: a shrinking minimum wage cut into the earnings of the nation’s least-skilled workers while falling trade barriers, deregulation and the decline of labor unions eroded the income of the middle class. The rise of the top 1 percent, he believes, is mostly about executive pay and the growing footprint of finance. ...

My view is that both the technology and institutional forces are at work, and the question is not which of the two explains growing inequality -- they are not mutually exclusive -- but rather how much each contributed to the growing disparity.

    Posted by on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 08:43 AM in Economics, Income Distribution | Permalink  Comments (57)


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