Author Archives: Editor

We’ve hit peak injustice: a world without borders, but only for the super-rich

In our regression from liberal aspiration to the brutal realities of Trump and Brexit, one of the nirvanas set aside has been the notion of a world without borders. “ America first ,” says the president. “Britain first and always,” chant the Brexiters. The majority demand is for migration curbs in principle, even if they are unlikely to be achieved in practice. The global village will be refashioned with barbed-wire fencing. And yet in this, as in most things, money talks.

From a list of names leaked to the Guardian, we now know that the Cypriot government has raised more […]

Leveraging new data can help low-income students climb the economic ladder, writes Michael Lawrence Collins.


The story we tell ourselves about upward income mobility is unraveling. The majority of respondents to a New America survey felt that it is harder than ever to attain a foundational element of the American dream, in which children earn more than their parents. But most respondents still believe another tenet of the American mobility narrative: that going to college creates upward mobility.

While it is true that college graduates do better in our economy than nongrads, earnings from different college degrees vary considerably. For low-income students in particular, not all college degrees are equally valuable. These and other recent […]

Foss: We need a better system for evaluating colleges

Foss: We need a better system for evaluating colleges

The Skidmore College campus in April. I remember paying close attention to the U.S. News and World Report’s annual college rankings when I was in high school.

Along with the Fiske Guide to Colleges and a few other resources, I considered the rankings a valuable resource — a way to learn more about the colleges that interested me and better understand how they were perceived by the outside world.

In retrospect, all this agonizing over college applications seems a little silly.I enjoyed the liberal arts college experience, but I now know there are plenty of other ways to prepare for life […]

Amazon’s new headquarters can revitalize downtrodden America

Ross Douthat is right. Writing in the New York Times over the weekend, Douthat proposes that Amazon should consider moving its new headquarters to a place like St. Louis, MO, “as an act of corporate citizenship.” He is correct that Jeff Bezos can offer Amazon “as an engine of revitalization,” with the potential to do “what’s good for America.” Ross Douthat is correct. Jeff Bezos can offer Amazon “as an engine of revitalization,” with the potential to do “what’s good for America.” Image via Twenty20. Raj Chetty and Nathan Hendren of the Equality of Opportunity project provide a framework […]

The Mobility Myth

Since at least the days of Horatio Alger, a cornerstone of American thinking has been the hope of social mobility—the idea that, as Lawrence Samuel put it in a history of the American dream, anyone can, “through dedication and with a can-do spirit, climb the ladder of success.” In recent years, though, plenty of Americans have come to believe that, as President Obama said in his State of the Union address, “upward mobility has stalled.” So it was a surprise recently when a team of economists from Harvard and Berkeley released a comprehensive study showing that mobility in the […]

Mitra ’18: Stop reading college rankings

Over the years, people have attributed the economic inequality in higher education to a variety of conditions: the advantage given to legacy students, the lack of extensive and well-communicated financial aid opportunities and the altogether inscrutable college admissions process. Now, a new factor has been thrown into the mix: the college ranking system.

University rankings have long been criticized for being opaque, inaccurate and reductive. But these lists — particularly the recently released U.S. News and World Report College Rankings — have far greater implications for the higher education landscape than simply misleading high school seniors. According to a new […]

Set priorities to bridge inequalities

Set priorities to bridge inequalities

Opinion » Comment

Scandinavian economies are an outstanding example of how market economics need not necessarily worsen income inequalities. While absolute poverty has reduced in India, relative inequality has worsened. PTI Mythili Bhusnurmath

Thomas Piketty’s book, Capital in the 21st Century, highlighting growing income and wealth inequalities, might have made waves in the West when the first English translation appeared in 2014. But it received scant attention in India. However, Piketty’s new paper, Income inequality, 1922-2014: From British Raj to Billionaire Raj?, co-authored with Lucas Chancel, has more than made up for that. Perhaps, it is the catchy title. […]

A fascinating result from China about economic mobility

As we all know the Chinese communist revolution entirely appropriated all private wealth. As we all also know it has been possible once again, for these past few decades, to make private wealth again. We’ve thus a good test of that old question, is it simply happenstance that some people have more wealth than others or not?

That is, once the redistribution has happened do we get the same old people accumulating the wealth again or is it some completely different group that then prospers? A claim at least of an answer out of China :

Virtually every Chinese millionaire or […]

The Hoarding of the American Dream

There’s a certain type of financial confessional that has had a way of going viral in the post-recession era. The University of Chicago law professor complaining his family was barely keeping their heads above water on $250,000 a year . This hypothetical family of three in San Francisco making $200,000, enjoying vacations to Maui, and living hand-to-mouth. This real New York couple making six figures and merely “ scraping by .”

In all of these viral posts, denizens of the upper-middle class were attempting to make the case for their middle class-ness. Taxes are expensive. Cities are expensive. Tuition is […]

Explaining US income inequality by household demographics, 2016 edition – Publications – AEI

AEI Explaining US income inequality by household demographics, 2016 edition The Census Bureau released its annual report this week on “Income and Poverty in the United States” with lots of newly updated data on household income and household demographics. Based on those new data, I present my annual post titled “Explaining Income Inequality by Household Demographics” (see my previous versions of this analysis for years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015). Most of the discussion on income inequality focuses on the relative differences over time between low-income and high-income American households. But it’s also informative […]