Workers & Economic Inequality

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Should You Buy Buying Happiness?

May 21, 2015 COMMENTARY BY: Mike Cassidy TOPICS: Workers & Economic Inequality, Economic Policy

While it seems like earning money consumes much of our daily effort, studies have shown that our income only affects our happiness to a certain degree.


Why the US Can’t Shake Off the Great Recession

Despite the inspiring headlines and statistics emerging following the Great Recession, TCF fellow Daniel Alpert confirms that the state of the economy is in fact not as healthy as it appears in the public eye. Apparently lackluster financial effects remain such as impending inflation and lower than average employment rates.In fact, the entire post-recession economic recovery in the U.S. has been far less than stellar. Median household real incomes have not recovered and jobs created have been at lower wages than previously existing jobs. The pace of job growth has slowed significantly this year, with the percentage of the employable population actually working near a 35 year low.

Read Alpert's full article here from CNBC.

Tags: unemployment rate, infrastructure spending, inflation, great recession, economy reform

Restoring the Public’s Trust in Economists

Economists are largely politically polarized in their theories on how to improve the fiscal policy in the U.S. TCF fellow Mark Thoma says that unlike other professions that can rely on tests in a lab, economists must rely on modeling assumptions which inevitably means their work involves a high degree of "mathiness" or, "restricting your microfoundations in advance to guarantee a particular political result and hiding what you are doing in a blizzard of irrelevant and ungrounded algebra.”

We must find a way to make it clear what the preponderance of evidence says about important policy decisions. Far too often, confusion about the degree to which economists are unified, or not, clouds the public debate. Somehow, and surveys such as the IGM Economic Experts Panel are a start, we must do a better job of communicating the general view within the profession about important policy issues.

Read Thoma's full article featured in Fiscal Times.

Tags: partisan pollitics, fiscal policy, economists

For the Sake of Working-Class Students, Give ‘Fisher’ Another Chance

TCF senior fellow Rick Kahlenberg, who has written extensively on reforming the higher education system, encourages the U.S. Supreme Court to accept an appeal made by Abigail Noel Fisher in the Fisher v. University of Texas litigation challenging UT-Austin’s affirmative-action policies. Kahlenberg champions the use of class instead of race as a means of encouraging a diverse student body on college campuses.

In the Fisher decision, the court said the 14th Amendment of the Constitution placed on universities "the ultimate burden of demonstrating, before turning to racial classifications, that workable race-neutral alternatives do not suffice." The justices then sent the case back to the Fifth Circuit to apply this standard.

Read Kahlenberg's entire article featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Tags: race-based affirmative action, higher education, diversity in education, college admissions, class-based affirmative action

Education and Economic Policy in an Age of Political Polarization: Is There a Good Way Forward?

On May 13, 2015 TCF senior fellow Rick Kahlenberg moderated a panel at the Albert Shanker Institute which discussed the current functionality of American political parties, as part of the "Reclaiming the Promise of Public Education Conversation Series":

Read more about the panel here.

Tags: political polarization, education policy, economic policy

Deep Poverty Undermines Our Economic Potential

TCF fellow and economist Mark Thoma says that the level of "deep poverty," that is, families having a cash income less than half of the federal poverty level, remains startlingly high. While the causes behind this deep poverty remain undetermined, much past research points to welfare reform. It is essential that this issue gets addressed soon, because deep poverty is oftentimes extremely difficult to escape.

"There is reason to believe that even a short amount of time in deep poverty damages the prospects of children's success." That is one of the reasons why deep poverty persists across generations, "14 percent of those who were born deeply poor will be in deep poverty at age 40, about three times as many as those who were not born in deep poverty."

Read Thoma's article from CBS Moneywatch.

Tags: welfare, poverty, income inequality, federal poverty line


Workers & Economic Inequality

Workers & Economic Inequality

In recent decades, and especially since 2000, the richest Americans have enjoyed soaring income and wealth while the rest of the population's living standards have stagnated. The Century Foundation was one of the first institutions to raise serious concerns about these trends and propose ideas for improving economic conditions for all Americans- not just the fortunate few.

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