Search the Site

Posts Tagged ‘wealth gap’

How to Control Runaway Entitlement Spending

At the Becker-Posner blog, Richard Posner offers some ideas for amending the entitlements programs that are “threatening the long-term solvency of the federal government”:

Which leads me to the first of the only two practical ideas that occur to me for slowing the increase in entitlement expenditures relative to the size of the economy: a shift in emphasis in medical research from length of life to ability to live independently. Independent living means living without home care (whether by relatives, thus taking time from them that they could use more productively in other activities, including paid employment, or by paid care—paid by the government in many cases) and being able—and wanting—to work. Independent living can be fostered by focusing medical research on problems of vision, musculoskeletal problems (which impair mobility), obesity, and dementia, in preference to research on curing and preventing cancer, heart disease, and stroke. 

How Much Financial Inequality Is Due to Financial Illiteracy?

Annamaria Lusardi, whose ground-breaking research on financial literacy has been featured here several times, has put out a new working paper (with co-authors Pierre-Carl Michaud and Olivia S. Mitchell) that could be read as laying much of the blame for the lack of household wealth at the foot of the members of said household. The paper is called “Optimal Financial Knowledge and Wealth Inequality” (abstract; PDF):

While financial knowledge is strongly positively related to household wealth, there is also considerable cross-sectional variation in both financial knowledge and net asset levels.  To explore these patterns, we develop a calibrated stochastic life cycle model featuring endogenous financial knowledge accumulation.  The model generates substantial wealth inequality, over and above that of standard life cycle models; this is because higher earners typically have more hump-shaped labor income profiles and lower retirement benefits which, when interacted with precautionary saving motives, boost their need for private wealth accumulation and thus financial knowledge.

Our simulations show that endogenous financial knowledge accumulation has the potential to account for a large proportion of wealth inequality. 

College and the Widening Wealth Gap

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a few Economic Policy Institute snapshots might be the Great Novel of our time. A few weeks ago, Heidi Shierholz at EPI brought us yet another harrowing tale from the front lines of the recession generation. In an “Economic Snapshot,” she writes:

As college students head back to the classroom this semester, a harsh reality confronts them — the rewards for the time, energy, and money that young people put into college are less than they were a decade ago. Since 2000, America’s young college graduates have seen wages, adjusted for inflation, deteriorate. This lack of wage growth may be particularly surprising to those used to reading about the vast unfilled need for college graduates, which if true would lead to increases in their earnings.

But how is this happening? Maybe it has something to do with a more recent snapshot from Lawrence Mishel at EPI on the growing wealth gap in America. He writes: