An inclusive society seeks to eliminate child poverty

Wellington New Zealand

My meeting with senior Treasury officials began with the nonchalantly stated advice “In the event of an earthquake we like to get under the tables and hold on to the legs so that they don’t get away from us.”

As a Canadian, albeit one who has visited New Zealand three times in the past decade, I naively took this as a metaphor for the earth-shattering ideas the public service expects from its consultations with outside experts.

I assure you that the dozen or more participants gathered to discuss how the government might contribute to building “a more inclusive New Zealand” offered advice that was far from ground breaking.

How possibly could they?

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“Inequality, Life Chances, and Public Policy,” watch the presentation I made at Millersville university

I was very pleased to speak at the 2014 International Policy Conference on the theme “Inequality: Defining our Time?” held at Millersville University on November 6th and 7th, 2014. I spoke on the very kind invitation of Professor Ken Smith and the Department of Economics at Millersville University.

My talk was called “Inequality, Life Chances, and Public Policy: How to Slide Down the Great Gatsby Curve,” and you can watch it here if you have an interest.

These are the associated slides: Inequality Life Chances and Public Policy how to Slide Down the Great Gatsby Curve for Millersville University International Policy Conference

The source for this presentation is an article I published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives called “Income Inequality, Equality of Opportunity, and Intergenerational Mobility

The discussant, who begins speaking at about 47 minutes into the talk, is Professor Antonio Callari of Franklin and Marshall College. He offered some interesting remarks about how the theme of the talk relates to developments in Lancaster PA, where the conference was held.

[ One silly grammatical error that I wish I could take back occurs when I say “the more statistically significant among you,” when my intention was “the more statistically savvy among you.” ]

Income Inequality, Equality of Opportunity, and Intergenerational Mobility

The summer issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives will feature a collection of articles on inequality and the top 1%, some of which are now being circulated by the authors.

The paper by Tony Atkinson and his coauthors, “The top 1 percent in international and historical perspective,” is available in this post, and “The Pay of Corporate Executives and Financial Professionals as Evidence of Rents in Top 1 Percent Incomes,” by Josh Bivens and Lawerence Mishel, is available on the Economic Policy Institute website.

Greg Mankiw has also posted a copy of his paper, “Defending the One Percent“, on his blog.

My contribution to the collection is based on the notion that the inequality literature has paid little attention to the intergenerational consequences of increasing top income shares, and it can be read as a counterpoint to Mankiw’s piece, or at least to his claim that inequality of opportunity is not a reason to worry about the top 1%.

Here is the final draft: Income Inequality, Equality of Opportunity, and Intergenerational Mobility. But if you just want a quick read, an excerpt from the conclusion follows. Either way, feedback is—as always—welcomed.

[NOTE added December 10, 2013: the published version of this paper is available from the American Economics Association website for the Summer 2013 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, as is the table of contents for the entire issue.]

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Inequality and social mobility, an interesting discussion

Canada2020 event February 26 2013

“The idea that all citizens should have an equal chance to succeed in life, regardless of where they start, is fundamental to liberal societies and emblematic of the American—and Canadian—dream” is the way a Canadian think tank, Canada2020, introduces a panel discussion it hosted that explored the idea of economic mobility, why it is important, and how it is related to inequality of outcomes.

I was a member of the panel and had a very interesting—and at times humorous and entertaining—discussion with Zanny Minton Beddoes the economics editor of The Economist, Carolyn Acker the founder of Pathways to Education, and Ron Haskins a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. You can view the entire discussion, which was moderated by Diana Carney, by clicking on the following screen shot (and waiting a bit for it to load):

The short presentation I made at the beginning of the talk is, if you are interested, available here: Equality_of_Opportunity_A_Canadian_Dream_for_Canada2020

I plan on revising the background document I wrote for the event—which you can download from the Canada2020 website—and would therefore be very pleased to hear your views on the discussion, and any specific feedback you might have.

How to Slide Down the Great Gatsby Curve: Inequality, Life Chances, and Public Policy in the United States

CorakMiddleClass_fig1

The Center for American Progress has released a study I wrote called “How to Slide Down the Great Gatsby Curve: Inequality, Life Chances, and Public Policy in the United States”. Here is an excerpt:

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The US Senate wonders about tax policy for the American Dream: Do parents act in the best interests of their children?

How should programs intended to support children in low-income families be designed if parents don’t always act in the best interests of their children?

This question, among others, was posed to me in response to my July 10th testimony to the Senate Committee on Finance hearing on “Helping Young People Achieve the American Dream.”  You can review all of the questions on my November 11th post.

In one way or another they address the fundamental drivers of the extent to which children grow up to be adults having the same socio-economic status as their parents. Family background matters for life chances because of three related forces: inequalities originating in the labour market, the capacity of families to invest in the skills and aptitudes of their children, and the degree to which public policy levels the playing field.

What parents do matters a good deal, and a question posed by the Committee Chairperson, Senator Max Baucus, recognizes this, and wonders about the implications for the design of public policy.

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