Article: Michele E. Gilman, “En-Gendering Economic Inequality,” Colum. J. Gender & L. (forthcoming).
We live in an era of growing economic inequality. Luminaries ranging from the President to the Pope to economist Thomas Piketty in his bestselling book Capital in the Twenty- First Century have raised alarms about the disparity between the haves and the have-nots. Overlooked, however, in these important discussions is the reality that economic inequality is not a uniform experience; rather, its effects fall more harshly on women and minorities. With regard to gender, American women have higher rates of poverty and get paid less than comparable men, and their workplace participation rates are falling. Yet economic inequality is neither inevitable nor intractable. Given that the government creates the rules of the market, it is essential to analyze the government’s role in perpetuating economic inequality.
This Article specifically examines the role of the Supreme Court in contributing to gender based economic inequality. The thesis is that the Supreme Court applies oversimplified economic assumptions about the market in its decision-making, thereby perpetuating economic inequality on the basis of gender. Applying insights of feminist economic theory, the Article analyzes recent Supreme Court jurisprudence about women workers, including Wal-Mart v. Dukes (denying class certification to female employees who were paid and promoted less than men), Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (granting business owners the right to deny contraception coverage to female employees on religious grounds), and Harris v. Quinn (limiting the ability of home health care workers to unionize and thereby improve their working conditions). In these cases, the Court elevates its narrow view of efficiency over more comprehensive understandings, devalues care work, upholds harmful power imbalances, and ignores the intersectional reality of the lives of low-wage women workers. The Article concludes that the Court is eroding collective efforts by women to improve their working conditions and economic standing. It suggests advocacy strategies for reforming law to obtain economic justice for women and their families.
New Chart Book: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Chart Book: TANF at 20,” Aug. 5, 2016.
New Article: Sarah K. Bruch, Marcia K. Meyers, Janet C. Gornick, “Separate and Unequal: The Dimensions and Consequences of Safety Net Decentralization in the U.S. 1994-2014,” Institute for Research on Poverty (Aug. 2016).
In this paper, we examine the dimensions and consequences of decentralized social safety net policies. We consider the adequacy of benefits and inclusiveness of receipt for eleven federal-state programs that constitute the core of safety net provision for working age adults and families: cash assistance, food assistance, health insurance, child support, child care, preschool/early education, unemployment insurance, state income taxes, cash assistance work assistance, disability assistance, and housing assistance. In the first part of the paper we examine the extent of cross-state inequality in social provision. We find substantial variation across states; variation that is consistent with policy design differences in state discretion; and at levels equal to or greater than variation across the European countries that have been recognized as having different welfare regimes. In the second section, we turn to an analysis of change over time (1994 to 2014) examining four dimensions of convergence: degree, location of change, direction of change, and scope. We find both decreases (retrenchment) and increases (expansions) of provision, a handful of cases of convergence (decreasing inequality) and divergence (increasing inequality), and a great deal of synchronous change and persistence in the magnitude of cross state inequalities.
Posted in Articles, Children, Economic Mobility, Education, Employment, Family, Health, housing, Inequality, Measuring Poverty, Reports, Socio-Economic Rights, Uncategorized, Welfare
News Article: Paul Krugman, “Obama’s Trickle-Up Economics,” New York Times, Sept. 16, 2016 [summarizing the Census Bureau report showing Obama’s progressive economic policies have been largely successful].
News Article: New York Times Editorial Board, “The Failure to Talk Frankly About Poverty,” New York Times, Sept. 13, 2016.
Posted in Economic Crisis, Economic Mobility, Employment, Family, Health, Homeless, housing, Inequality, Jobs, Measuring Poverty, Minimum Wage, News Coverage of Poverty, Politics, Uncategorized, War on Poverty, Welfare
New Article: Brishen Rogers, Employment Rights in the Platform Economy: Getting Back to Basics, 10 Harv. L. & Pol’y Rev. 479 (2016).
The employment status of workers for “platform economy” firms such as Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit and Handy has become a significant legal and political issue. Lawsuits against several such companies allege that they have misclassified workers as independent contractors to evade employment law obligations. Various lawmakers and commentators, pointing to the complexity of existing tests for employment and the costs of employment duties, have responded with proposals to limit platform companies’ liability. This article steps into such debates, using the status of Uber drivers as a test case. It argues that Uber drivers may not fall neatly into either the “employee” or the “independent contractor” category under existing tests. Nevertheless, an important principle underlying those tests — the anti-domination principle — strongly indicates that the drivers are employees. That principle also indicates that proposals to limit platform economy firms’ liabilities are premature at best and misguided at worst.
Op-Ed: Natasha J. Cabrera & Ron Mincy, Papa’s Not a Rolling Stone: Low-Income Men and Their Children, American Prospect, Aug. 19, 2016.
New Report: Center on Poverty and Inequality at Georgetown Law, Lessons Learned From 40 Years of Subsidized Employment Programs (2016).
News Coverage: Nick Hanauer, Confronting the Parasite Economy, American Prospect, May 16, 2016.