The Hoover Institution Press today released Inequality and Economic Policy: Essays in Memory of Gary Becker in which a group of distinguished economists take a broad-based look at income inequality. The essays examine how and whether inequality is increasing and what role, if any, the government should play. This book is in memory of the late economist Gary Becker, a Nobel Prize winner and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
“Gary was a pioneering researcher on inequality and the role of human capital and inequality,” said coeditor and Hoover senior fellow John Taylor. “His conclusion that ‘encouraging a better quality and more effective schooling and training, especially for those at the bottom and middle of the human capital distribution, will raise economic growth and reduce inequality of earnings’ is reinforced by many of the contributors to this book. It was an honor to pay tribute to his significant work.”
The issue of income inequality has become central to the public conversation. The authors of these essays – many using new data and modeling – address the role played by human capital, supply restrictions, and government policy in driving shifts in income inequality and intergenerational mobility. Many of the authors emphasize that more- competitive and freer markets, particularly in our education system, and targeted economic policies – such as expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit – would enhance opportunities for the poor and disadvantaged rather than patch up their problems with income transfers.
“We have taken an unfortunate misstep in the way we approach income inequality. Wealth redistribution is not a long-term sustainable solution, and it is a distraction from the real challenge of promoting economic growth and decreasing poverty,” said John Cochrane, contributor and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. “We need instead to address the large economic problems that face lower-income Americans.”
This book offers timely ideas, and clears up many misconceptions, that will help policy makers determine how to bridge the gap between the bottom and the top to improve our overall economy. “While inequality is a complex issue, it is important to remember that the United States –more than any other country in the world – has long focused on the opportunity for upward mobility and must continue to do so in the future,” said Taylor. “We need to be smarter about government assistance and focus on reforming our education system so people are better equipped with the skills and talent to enter the workforce.”
EDITORS: John B. Taylor is the George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics at the Hoover Institution and the Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics at Stanford University. He chairs the Hoover Working Group on Economic Policy. Tom Church is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. He studies income inequality, poverty, health care policy, entitlement reform, and immigration reform. Chris Miller is the associate director of the Program in Grand Strategy at Yale University. His current research examines Russia's economy and economic policy.
Contributors: John H. Cochrane, Charles I. Jones, Edward P. Lazear, Casey B. Mulligan, Kevin M. Murphy, Lee E. Ohanian, James Piereson, Joshua D. Rauh, Emmanuel Saez, George P. Shultz, and Jörg L. Spenkuch
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About the Hoover Institution: The Hoover Institution, Stanford University, is a public policy research center devoted to the advanced study of economics, politics, history, and political economy—both domestic and foreign—as well as international affairs. With its eminent scholars and world-renowned Library & Archives, the Hoover Institution seeks to improve the human condition by advancing ideas that promote economic opportunity and prosperity, and secure and safeguard peace for America and all mankind.
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