Understanding inequality and what to do about it

Inequality has been increasing in most countries, in part because top 1% are capturing a higher fraction of all earnings but also for other reasons. I made a presentation to the Occupied Ottawa conference “Take Back Democracy!” on June 2nd, 2012. The presentation explores three issues in search of intelligent conversation, and in order to accomplish something constructive: description, explanation, and prescription.

You can download it as a pdf here: Understanding inequality and what to do about it .

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Social mobility is about twice as great in Australia and Canada than in the United Kingdom and the United States

Social mobility is about twice as great in Australia and Canada than in the United Kingdom and the United States.

This is the first of three facts upon which my presentation to The Sutton Trust and The Carnegie Corporation workshop on social mobility called: “Social Mobility and Education in the Four Major Anglophone Countries” on May 21st. This summit of academics, politicians, and public policy advocates coincided with the one year anniversary since the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nick Clegg, released the government’s social mobility strategy.

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Inequality begets inequality, according to the Economic Report of the President

On a warm evening last spring I found myself at a dinner party in the lush suburbs of a small Ivy League town not far from New York City.

The main concern of a fellow economist was the trouble his son was having raising his new family: that would be the son living in Manhattan, the one making $10 million a year.

It appears there is a bidding war for spaces in good kindergartens and, as we all know, prices skyrocket when demand outstrips supply.

And demand has been rising. We also know that.

So the most striking claim in the Economic Report of the President for 2012 is not that the share of earnings accruing to the top 1%—a share that was about 8% during the early 1980s—stands at close to 20%. After all, this is old news, the stuff of Occupy Wall Street.

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Immigrants face challenges in finding jobs that are not of their own making

The challenges immigrants face in finding jobs have to do with not just the characteristics and skills they bring to the labour market, but also the state of our economy and the barriers put in their way. More and more tinkering with the selection rules used to admit immigrants will not on its own address these challenges.

In a post on my blog I called for lower rates of immigration during business cycle downturns, and a reader commented by saying:

I arrived in Canada in July 2011 with my family and was called for exactly one job interview a couple of weeks ago. To say I am scarred is putting it mildly. I left a very successful career with the knowledge that it will be difficult to get a similar position but I never anticipated that I would end up feeling invisible and a non-entity with absolutely nothing to offer. Since coming here I have been shelling out money for everything, university fees for my kids and so on. Other than contributing to the Canadian economy through our expenses, I feel immigrants are not considered to be of any particular value.

It struck me how odd and incomplete the public policy response by Canadian opinion makers and governments is to this kind of concern.

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Inequality and Occupy Wall Street 8: causes of growing inequality and policies to address it

This video of a panel discussion called “The Challenges of Growing Inequality” organized by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University features a discussion by Lawerence Katz, a prominent labour economist. Katz speaks on the causes of inequality and offers advice to Occupiers on what should be done about it.

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Success in school for child migrants is linked to their age of arrival

Children who migrate to Canada have a better chance of finishing high school if they arrive in the country at a younger age.

In a study published by Statistics Canada I show that immigrant children arriving in Canada after the age of nine are more likely to drop out without finishing high school than those arriving at a younger age.

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