How America Gave Up on Change

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In his last book, economist Tyler Cowen wrote about how machine intelligence could change the world. In his new book, The Complacent Class , he writes about the forces that prevent change from happening. In particular, he argues that America has become more averse to change in recent decades, and that this has transformed our work, our leisure, and our neighborhoods.

I asked Cowen to explain his thesis and what it means for our companies, our careers, and even our politics. The conversation was edited for clarity and concision.

HBR: In the book, you write, “Americans are in fact working […]

Bootstrap myth exposed: White inheritance key driver in racial wealth gap


Madison365 Professor Thomas Shapiro “Blacks/Latinos/non-whites don’t value education like whites do. They don’t work as hard as whites do. They spend more than whites do on junk,” says your standard white guy at the end of the bar dissecting the large racial wealth gap in the United States. “They just need to get off their butts and bootstrap it up like I did!”

However, the old tried-and-true American bootstrap lore took a big hit this month with a study that shows most families living with the material comfort and range of opportunities normally associated with middle-class status have obtained them […]

This Shows Why Immigration Is So Important to the Chicago Region


The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning has a new overview of broad population trends in Cook and the collar counties, and within it is a bird’s-eye view of race in the metropolitan area, showing how it’s evolved in the past decade and a half, and where it’s going—with reason for concern.

Take central Cook County. Here’s what it looked like in 2000 (blue dots equal 10 white residents, green dots equal 10 black residents, orange dots equal 10 Hispanic residents, red dots equal 10 Asian residents), compared to 2010-2014 American Community Survey data: JuxtaposeJS Photo Credits: Before Chicago Metropolitan Planning […]

Lehigh Valley colleges: Who has the richest students on campus?


Students attending America’s most elite colleges are wealthier than experts realized, a new study that looks at millions of anonymous tax filings, tuition records and earnings has found.

Some schools are much more economically segregated than previously thought, while other colleges offer students income mobility.

The New York Times’ Upshot has created a really cool data tool to sift through all of the numbers.At 38 U.S. colleges more students come from families at the top 1 percent of the income scale than from the entire bottom 60 percent of that scale. And two Lehigh Valley colleges landed in that list.Find out […]

We’re No. 1? The Trouble With U.S. News And World Report’s Ranking Of The Bay State


I think I hear the duck boats being fired up for another parade. No, not for another sports championship, but for Massachusetts being ranked No. 1 by U.S. News and World Report for outcomes for citizens. From healthcare access to education to internet access, we are at the top.

This is worth celebration — but are we really number one?

While we hold the superlative in several categories, we rank 45th in income inequality , which means there are 44 other states who have done a better job at building their community so everyone has the opportunity to thrive. This means […]

Justice Department Urges Court to Approve $20 billion BP plc (ADR) Oil Spill Settlement

Justice Department Urges Court to Approve $20 billion BP plc (ADR) Oil Spill Settlement

Justice Department Urges Court to Approve $20 billion BP plc (ADR) Oil Spill Settlement Federal lawyers urge a New Orleans court to approve the settlement to resolve years of strained relations with BP over the oil spill

The settlement over the deep-water horizon oil spill involving BP plc (ADR) ( NYSE:BP ) is nearing final approval. On March 22nd, federal lawyers asked a New Orleans court to grant formal approval to the settlement agreement in relation to the Gulf Oil Spill.

The settlement agreement, worth more than $20 billion, was initially announced last year in July, by five Gulf Coast states, […]

Housing costs aggravate area’s inequality, report says

BOSTON, MA - 11/05/2015: AERIAL VIEWS Interior view of an apartment at 100 Pier 4, the new apartment building. Construction moves on at a fast pace in the Seaport District. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo) SECTION: BUSINESS TOPIC 03seaporthousing(1)

BOSTON, MA – 11/05/2015: AERIAL VIEWS Interior view of an apartment at 100 Pier 4, the new apartment building. Construction moves on at a fast pace in the Seaport District. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo) SECTION: BUSINESS TOPIC 03seaporthousing(1) Even as Greater Boston becomes more racially diverse, the high cost of housing has left the region increasingly racially and economically segregated over the past five years, a report released Tuesday by a regional planning group said.

Although Greater Boston has made progress closing some gaps, in the health and education of children of color vast economic disparities persist and in […]

To understand Trump, learn from his voters


To make sense of Donald Trump’s emerging presidency, it helps to understand the social and economic discontent that put him in office. Harvard Professor Michael Sandel took a hard look at those concerns during a Tuesday afternoon lecture called “Why Trump? What Now?” Sandel argued that Trump’s rise reflected a populist backlash against “decades of rising inequality and a version of globalization that benefited those at the top but left ordinary people feeling disempowered.”

Addressing a full house at Harvard Law School’s Langdell Hall, Sandel first acknowledged the concerns of many of his listeners.

“Many people around the world worry that […]

Housing costs aggravate area’s inequality, report says

BOSTON, MA - 11/05/2015: AERIAL VIEWS Interior view of an apartment at 100 Pier 4, the new apartment building. Construction moves on at a fast pace in the Seaport District. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo) SECTION: BUSINESS TOPIC 03seaporthousing(1)

BOSTON, MA – 11/05/2015: AERIAL VIEWS Interior view of an apartment at 100 Pier 4, the new apartment building. Construction moves on at a fast pace in the Seaport District. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo) SECTION: BUSINESS TOPIC 03seaporthousing(1) Even as Greater Boston becomes more racially diverse, the high cost of housing has left the region increasingly racially and economically segregated over the past five years, a report released Tuesday by a regional planning group said.

Although Greater Boston has made progress closing some gaps, in the health and education of children of color vast economic disparities persist and in […]

Are Michigan colleges serving as engines of economic mobility?

Feb.7 Mfi

I’m generally not a fan of measuring a college’s value by the incomes of their graduates. If a high proportion of a school’s alumni enter a lower-paid field like social work, I don’t think this should count against the college. In addition, simply looking at salary data ignores the significant non-pecuniary benefits of getting a college degree.

That said, a set of data on earnings by college released last month from economist Raj Chetty and others – who’ve published a series of recent studies documenting mobility and opportunity in America – is worth paying attention to. Their data is interesting […]