Author: Ben Wilterdink

Racial Disparities and the High Cost of Low Debates

Ideological intolerance in academia and the media has dramatically narrowed the range of ‘acceptable’ ideas, beliefs, and even topics of discussion. This can have a particularly deleterious effect on discussions relating to public policy. An example of this phenomenon was recently provided by the release of a landmark new study on race and economic mobility entitled “Race and Economic Opportunity in the United States: An Intergenerational Perspective.” The study was published by the Equality of Opportunity Project and produced by Stanford economist Raj Chetty, Harvard economist Nathaniel Hendren, and U.S. Census Bureau researchers Maggie R. Jones and Sonja R. Porter. Using a uniquely wide-ranging dataset, the researchers examined the individual income rank of almost all Americans now in their late 30s and compared them to their parents’ household income rank at the same age. Their findings revealed significant disparities in income between racial groups, some of which substantially persisted across generations. More about the study and its key findings can be read here, but by far the most significant finding was the stark gap in …

Dodging the Hard Question on Economic Mobility

A review of Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It, by Richard V. Reeves. Brookings Institution Press (June 13, 2017) 240 pages. In an era increasingly defined by arguments about income inequality, any discussion of improving economic mobility is a welcome one. In his recently released book, Dream Hoarders, Brookings Institution Scholar Richard V. Reeves tackles the subject head-on and finds an unlikely culprit for America’s lackluster economic mobility: the upper middle class. The book is well researched and clearly lays out some of the ways in which members of the American upper middle class are entrenching their status by taking advantage of opportunities not available to everyone. According to Reeves’s analysis, this “opportunity hoarding” is a major reason why Americans are not as economically mobile as they have been in the past. Because his findings and recommendations highlight the failures of the upper middle class rather than just the dreaded “one percent,” the book has garnered plenty …