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Amid growing inequality, Chekhov’s message resonates

Lura Dolas, senior lecturer, acting | October 19, 2015

Our work together as cast, crew and designers — developing our upcoming Theater, Dance and Performance Studies production — has led us all to a deeper understanding of why The Cherry Orchard, written and set in Russia in 1904, has so often been called “timeless” and “universal.” One need only scratch the surface of the play … Continue reading »

Nike, Obama and the Trans Pacific Partnership fiasco

Robert Reich, professor of public policy | May 19, 2015

On Friday, President Obama chose Nike headquarters in Oregon to deliver a defense of his proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership. It was an odd choice of venue. Nike isn’t the solution to the problem of stagnant wages in America. Nike is the problem. It’s true that over the past two years Nike has added 2,000 good-paying professional jobs at … Continue reading »

Innocent Bystanders? Monetary Policy and Inequality in the U.S.

Yuriy Gorodnichenko, associate professor of economics | October 28, 2014

Recent popular demonstrations such as the Occupy Wall Street movement have made it clear that the high levels of inequality in the United States remain a pressing concern for many. While protesters have primarily focused their ire on private financial institutions, the Federal Reserve (Fed) has also been one of their primary targets. The prevalence … Continue reading »

One step up and two steps back

Sylvia Allegretto, labor economist, Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics | October 2, 2014

With the release of the (mostly) triennial Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) from the Federal Reserve, it is once again time to look at trends in wealth. The SCF is one of the best sources for data on net worth (assets minus liabilities) in the U.S. In this post I use the newly released 2013 … Continue reading »

Inequality In the Twenty-First Century

john a. powell, director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society | May 2, 2014

As part of his nationwide book tour, French economist Thomas Piketty stopped on campus and in San Francisco last week to speak to overflowing lecture halls. The lecture I attended in San Francisco quickly filled to capacity, and the enthusiasm in the audience was palpable. Piketty’s new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has catapulted … Continue reading »

What do average Americans think about inequality?

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | April 10, 2014

Now that economic inequality has become a focus of attention – mentions of “income inequality” in the New York Times went up five-fold in the 2010s compared to the 2000s, 200-fold compared to the 1990s – we know a few things about it clearly. For example: American inequality is unusually great among western societies; it has been … Continue reading »

The unfinished march toward a decent minimum wage

Sylvia Allegretto, labor economist, Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics | August 26, 2013

It was fifty years ago the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place. The demand for a higher minimum wage was part of a package of demands seeking economic justice for workers through government intervention in the labor market. At that time, the wage floor was $1.15 and marchers were demanding a raise … Continue reading »

Trimmings for Labor Day

Robert Reich, professor of public policy |

The good news this Labor Day: Jobs are returning. The bad news this Labor Day: Most of them pay lousy wages and low if non-existent benefits. The trend toward lousy wages began before the Great Recession. According to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, weak wage growth between 2000 and 2007, combined with … Continue reading »

Detroit and the bankruptcy of America’s social contract

Robert Reich, professor of public policy | July 22, 2013

One way to view Detroit’s bankruptcy — the largest bankruptcy of any American city — is as a failure of political negotiations over how financial sacrifices should be divided among the city’s creditors, city workers, and municipal retirees — requiring a court to decide instead. It could also be seen as the inevitable culmination of … Continue reading »

Confronting suburban poverty – or celebrating suburban resilience?

Karen Chapple, Professor, City and Regional Planning | June 6, 2013

Suburban poverty is in the headlines again these weeks after the publication of Brookings researchers Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube’s new book, Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, which augments previous empirical work with fascinating case studies. But with the suburban poverty rates hovering around 11 percent, relative to 21 percent in cities, the question arises: … Continue reading »

Inequality update

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | June 4, 2013

Inequality has become the new hot topic over the last several years – in the media and in the research community. This post briefly reports several recent studies of inequality that tell us what’s been happening, why, and to what effect. (It’s not a cheery story.) Before that, notice how rapidly public attention – if … Continue reading »

Wealth and motivations for saving

Carola Conces Binder, Ph.D. candidate, economics | March 24, 2013

In a recent column in the Atlantic called “Building the Wealth of the Poor and Middle Class,” Noah Smith suggests a few ways to improve the unequal distribution of wealth in America. He notes that “one obvious thing we could do to make wealth more equal is – surprise! -redistribution…Giving the poor and middle-class more income will … Continue reading »

A modern “Antebellum puzzle”?

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | January 4, 2013

As described in an earlier post, there was a long period during America’ nineteenth-century economic growth in which progress was so uneven, so unequal that the height and life spans of Americans declined for a few decades. On average, those who were born between roughly 1830 and 1870 grew up a bit shorter and lived … Continue reading »

The giving nation?

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | December 11, 2012

The Page Family Foundation, funded by Google co-founder and philanthropist Larry Page and his wife Lucy, recently announced that it would cover flu shots for all 4- to 18-year-olds in the San Francisco Bay Area. “For some children, the cost of a flu shot could be prohibitive, so Larry and Lucy want to remove that … Continue reading »

The wrecking ball

Sylvia Allegretto, labor economist, Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics | July 16, 2012

The destruction caused by the bursting of the housing bubble and the subsequent Great Recession continues to wreck havoc on our economy, communities, families and workers. Last month, the Federal Reserve released 2010 data from its Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF). This triennial survey, one of the best sources on net worth (assets minus liabilities) … Continue reading »

Geography of inequality

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | June 11, 2012

One vision of the digital electronic future is that it would “erase” place and space. One can Skype over a cell phone with people half a globe away. A law firm can send audio to India and get back transcriptions in the morning. A firm in California can order goods from Korea and have them … Continue reading »

The few, the proud, the very rich

Sylvia Allegretto, labor economist, Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics | December 5, 2011

Much of the current political and popular discourse has focused on inequalities that exist in the U.S. In particular the Occupy movement has brought the huge disparities in wealth to the forefront. There are a few questions floating around about wealth. First, how skewed is the distribution? Second, it is true that the rich have … Continue reading »

Social Security — A pillar of retirement income

Sylvia Allegretto, labor economist, Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics | October 17, 2011

Last week my friends down the hall at the Center for Labor Research and Education released a new book titled Meeting California’s Retirement Security Challenge edited by Nari Rhee. The book (available free for download) addresses many issues pertaining to retirement, and my part reports the lay of the land for current retirees in the … Continue reading »