Inequality in America
The surge of inequality in income and wealth in the United States over the past twenty-five years has reversed the steady progress toward greater equality that had been underway throughout most of the twentieth century. This economic development has defied historical patterns and surprised many economists, producing vigorous debate. Inequality in America: What Role for Human Capital Policies? examines the ways in which human capital policies can address this important problem. Taking it as a given that potentially low-income workers would benefit from more human capital in the form of market skills and education, James Heckman and Alan Krueger discuss which policies would be most effective in providing it: should we devote more resources to the entire public school system, or to specialized programs like Head Start? Would relaxing credit restraints encourage more students to attend college? Does vocational training actually work? What is the best balance of private and public sector programs?
The book preserves the character of the symposium at which the papers were originally presented, recreating its atmosphere of lively debate. It begins with separate arguments by Krueger and Heckman (writing with Pedro Carneiro), which are followed by comments from other economists. Krueger and Heckman and Carneiro then offer separate responses to the comments and final rejoinders.
About the Authors
James J. Heckman shared the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2000. He is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago.
Alan B. Krueger is Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University.
About the Editor
Benjamin M.Friedman is William Joseph Maier Professor of Political Economy at HarvardUniversity and the author of The Moral Consequences of EconomicGrowth.
"A scholarly debate between rigorous economists of the left and right that has the virtue of shedding more light than heat."—The Washington Post
"There is no more important problem facing the U.S. than the wide and widening gap between the life chances of those who start with advantages and those who start with disadvantages. What can be done through education to restore something like equal opportunity? A thoughtful reader of this fascinating book will come to understand how one can try to answer that vital question, what sort of evidence there is, and how first-class scholars can come to different conclusions. There is excitement as well as enlightenment here."
—Robert M. Solow, Institute Professor of Economics, Emeritus, MIT, and Nobel Laureate in Economics (1987)
"This book is critical reading for anyone who wants to understand the debate over policy choices to combat widening inequality in the U.S. Alan Krueger offers an articulate case for expanding training initiatives and pursuing education reforms like class size reduction and merit pay. His critics argue instead for expanding school choice and refocusing public money on the youngest children. Inequality in America offers the reader a clear picture of the evidence, as well as the sharp lines that divide liberals and conservatives in this important area."
—David Card, Class of 1950 Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley