Category Archives: Economic Mobility

New Pathways Issue: “State of the Union 2017”

SOTU_cover_smallNew Pathways : “State of the Union 2017” (Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality 2017). Table of contents below:

Executive Summary
Are our country’s policies for reducing racial and ethnic inequalities getting the job done? The simple answer: No.
Employment
Even after the recovery, 1 in 9 African Americans and 1 in 6 Hispanics fear a job loss within one year. Why?
Poverty
We remain two Americas: a high-poverty America for blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans, and a (relatively) low-poverty America for whites and Asians.
Safety Net
The safety net, which is supposed to serve an equalizing function, sometimes works to exacerbate racial and ethnic inequalities within the low-income population.
Housing
Whereas 1 in 6 black and Hispanic households dedicate at least half of their income to housing costs, only 1 in 12 white households do. How did that happen?
Education
Between 1990 and 2015, average academic performance improved for students of all racial and ethnic groups, but grew fastest among black and Hispanic students. The result: White-black and white-Hispanic achievement gaps declined by 15 to 25 percent.
Incarceration
Did you think that all that talk about criminal justice reform has brought about a sea change in racial inequalities in incarceration? Think again.
Health
Large and persistent racial gaps in health are not the product of our genes but the consequences of our policies and history.
Earnings
Between 1970 and 2010, the earnings gap between whites and other groups has narrowed, but most of that decline was secured in the immediate aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement.
Wealth
African-Americans have less than 8 cents and Hispanics less than 10 cents of wealth for every dollar amassed by whites.
Intergenerational Mobility
The persistence of poverty has long been stronger for blacks than whites. However, beginning with generations that came of age in the mid-1960s, the white-black gap in the chance of escaping poverty has closed significantly.

News Article: ” The Average Black Family Would Need 228 Years to Build the Wealth of a White Family Today”

News Article: Joshua Holland, “The Average Black Family Would Need 228 Years to Build the Wealth of a White Family Today“, The Nation, August 8, 2016.

Article: Privacy, Poverty and Big Data: A Matrix of Vulnerabilities for Poor Americans

Article: Mary Madden, et al., Privacy, Poverty and Big Data: A Matrix of Vulnerabilities for Poor Americans, Washington L. Rev. (forthcoming 2017).

This Article examines the matrix of vulnerabilities that low-income people face as a result of the collection and aggregation of big data and the application of predictive analytics. On the one hand, big data systems could reverse growing economic inequality by expanding access to opportunities for low-income people. On the other hand, big data could widen economic gaps by making it possible to prey on low-income people or to exclude them from opportunities due to biases that get entrenched in algorithmic decision-making tools. New kinds of “networked privacy” harms, in which users are simultaneously held liable for their own behavior and the actions of those in their networks, may have particularly negative impacts on the poor. This Article reports on original empirical findings from a large, nationally-representative telephone survey with an oversample of low-income American adults and highlights how these patterns make particular groups of low-status internet users uniquely vulnerable to various forms of surveillance and networked privacy-related problems. In particular, a greater reliance on mobile connectivity, combined with lower usage of privacy-enhancing strategies may contribute to various privacy and security-related harms. The article then discusses three scenarios in which big data – including data gathered from social media inputs – is being aggregated to make predictions about individual behavior: employment screening, access to higher education, and predictive policing. Analysis of the legal frameworks surrounding these case studies reveals a lack of legal protections to counter digital discrimination against low-income people. In light of these legal gaps, the Article assesses leading proposals for enhancing digital privacy through the lens of class vulnerability, including comprehensive consumer privacy legislation, digital literacy, notice and choice regimes, and due process approaches. As policymakers consider reforms, the article urges greater attention to impacts on low-income persons and communities.

Article: Now is the Time: Challenging Resegregation and Displacement in the Age of Hypergentrification

Article: Bethany Y. Li, Now is the Time: Challenging Resegregation and Displacement in the Age of Hypergentrification, 85 Fordham L. Rev. 1189 (2016).

Gentrification is reaching a tipping point of resegregating urban space in global cities like New York and San Francisco, often spurred by seemingly neutral government policies. The displacement resulting from gentrification forces low-income people from their homes into areas of concentrated poverty. Low-income communities consequently lose space, place, social capital, and cultural wealth that residents and small businesses have spent decades building up. This Article argues that communities at this tipping point must integrate litigation strategies directly aimed at stemming the adverse impacts of gentrification. Community organizing is integral to antidisplacement efforts, but litigation—and its injunctive powers—should play a larger role in protecting residents in hypergentrified neighborhoods. Using a rezoning that spurred gentrification in New York City’s Chinatown and Lower East Side as a case study, this Article considers how the Fair Housing Act, state constitutions, and a new vision of property law could counter the negative and often racially discriminatory effects of gentrification on low-income communities.

Article: Resurrecting Labor

Article: Richard A. Bales, Resurrecting Labor77 Maryland L. Rev. (forthcoming).

Participation in American labor unions have changed radically, albeit incrementally, over the last fifty years. Private‐sector union density has declined five‐fold, whereas public‐sector density has increased almost as significantly. Today, unions rarely strike and in much of the country they are politically impotent. As traditional manufacturing declines and is replaced by on‐demand work, unions risk becoming a historical footnote.

This article ties the decline in union density and power to macroeconomic trends that are highly troubling in an advanced democracy, such as rising income inequality and the failure of wage growth to keep pace with GDP growth. It next reviews the traditional prescriptions that labor scholars have advocated to reverse labor’s decline. Finally, it proposes three new radical fixes: authorizing criminal prosecution for willful violations of labor law, expanding labor protections to on‐demand workers, and reversing the legal presumption that workers are not represented by a union unless they affirmatively opt in.

Podcast: How The ‘Scarcity Mindset’ Can Make Problems Worse

Podcast: Shankar Vadantam, How The ‘Scarcity Mindset’ Can Make Problems Worse, Morning Edition (Mar. 23, 2017).

News Article: Trump Budget Proposal Reflects Working-Class Resentment of the Poor

News Article: Eduardo Porter, Trump Budget Proposal Reflects Working-Class Resentment of the Poor, N.Y. Times (Mar. 7, 2017).

Article: Between Indigence, Islamophobia, and Erasure: Poor and Muslim in “War on Terror” America

Article: Khaled H. Beydoun, Between Indigence, Islamophobia, and Erasure: Poor and Muslim in “War on Terror” America, 104 Cal. L. Rev. 1463 (2016).

Nearly half of the Muslim American population is interlocked between indigence and “Islamophobia,” or anti-Muslim animus. Of the estimated eight million Muslim Americans, 45 percent of this population earns a household income less than $30,000 per year. While this statistic clashes with pervasive stereotyping of Muslim Americans as middle class, economically upwardly mobile, or opulently wealthy, it does correspond with the legal poverty line in the United States.

Since the September 11th terrorist attacks (9/11), the legal literature analyzing national security, anti-terror policies, and Muslim American civil liberties has been prolific. The emergence of “counterradicalization” policing within Muslim American communities drives this scholarly interest forward. However, since 9/11, Muslim Americans have been framed as similarly situated victims within legal literature. As a result, this body of scholarship fails to closely examine vulnerable indigent and working-class spaces where public and private Islamophobia is disproportionately unleashed. This failure compounds the injuries Muslim Americans already suffer.

This Essay intervenes to examine these liminal and overlooked spaces where indigence and Islamophobia collide. In turn, it highlights how the convergence of poverty, religious profiling and prosecution, and mounting counter radicalization policing disparately impact Muslim America’s most vulnerable demographic amid the still-escalating War on Terror.

News Article: Federal Anti-Poverty Programs Primarily Help the GOP’s Base

News Article: Ronald Brownstein, Federal Anti-Poverty Programs Primarily Help the GOP’s Base, The Atlantic (Feb. 16, 2017).

 

Article: ‘Equal Right to the Poor’

Article: Richard M. Re, ‘Equal Right to the Poor,’ U. Chicago L. Rev. (forthcoming 2017).

By law, federal judges must swear or affirm that they will “do equal right to the poor and to the rich.” This frequently overlooked oath, which I call the “equal right principle,” has historical roots dating back to the Bible and entered U.S. law in a statute passed by the First Congress. Today, the equal right principle is often understood to require only that judges faithfully apply other laws. But that reading, like the idea that the rich and poor are equally barred from sleeping under bridges, is questionable in light of the equal right principle’s text, context, and history.

This Article argues that the equal right principle supplies at least a plausible basis for federal judges to promote substantive economic equality when implementing underdetermined sources of law. There are many implications. For example, the equal right principle suggests that federal courts may legitimately limit the poor’s disadvantages in the adjudicative and legislative processes by expanding counsel rights and interpreting statutes with an eye toward economically vulnerable groups. The equal right principle should also inform what qualifies as a compelling or legitimate governmental interest within campaign finance jurisprudence, as well as whether to implement “under-enforced” equal protection principles.

More broadly, the equal right principle should play a more central role in constitutional culture. The United States is unusual in that its fundamental law is relatively silent on issues of economic equality. The equal right principle can fill that void by providing a platform for legal and public deliberation over issues of wealth inequality. Through judicial confirmation hearings and other forms of public contestation, the equal right principle can help to specify federal judges’ legal and moral commitments toward the poor.