Category Archives: Inequality

News Article: “How Zoning Restrictions Make Segregation Worse”

News Article: Richard Florida, “How Zoning Restrictions Make Segregation Worse,” Citylab, Jan. 4, 2016.

New Chart Book: “Chart Book: TANF at 20”

New Chart Book: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Chart Book: TANF at 20,” Aug. 5, 2016.

Article: “Invisible Inequality: The Two Americas of Military Sacrifice”

New Article: Douglas L. Kriner & Francis X. Shen, Invisible Inequality: The Two Americas of Military Sacrifice, 46 Memphis L. Rev. 545 (2016).

Through a series of empirical investigations — including analysis of over 500,000 American combat casualties from World War II through Iraq and Afghanistan — we show in this Article that there is growing socioeconomic inequality in military sacrifice and that the relative invisibility of this inequality has major political ramifications. Today, unlike in World War II, the Americans who die or are wounded in war are disproportionately coming from poorer parts of the country. We argue that these Two Americas of military sacrifice constitute invisible inequality because the issue is routinely overlooked by scholars, policymakers, and the public. We then use seven original surveys of American public opinion to uncover a variety of social, legal, and political consequences of this inequality. With Congress unlikely to act, and courts unwilling to intervene, we argue that the best path forward is to generate a renewed public debate over inequality in military sacrifice. To this end, we show empirically that such a conversation could transform public opinion. Ignoring inequality in military sacrifice is both morally comforting and politically beneficial. But it is at odds with empirical reality, and, most importantly, with our American ideals of shared sacrifice.

News Article: “What Happens When a Homeless Shelter Opens in a Gentrifying Neighborhood?”

News Article: Allegra Kirkland, “What Happens When a Homeless Shelter Opens in a Gentrifying Neighborhood?,” The Nation, Sept. 1, 2016 [despite protests from local Brooklynites, there are still plans for developing new businesses alongside the proposed homeless shelter].

New Article: “Separate and Unequal: The Dimensions and Consequences of Safety Net Decentralization in the U.S. 1994-2014”

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.

News Article: Judge, Citing Inequality, Orders Connecticut to Overhaul Its School System

News Article: Elizabeth A. Harris, “Judge, Citing Inequality, Orders Connecticut to Overhaul Its School System,” New York Times, Sept. 7, 2016.

News Article: “Obama’s Trickle-Up Economics”

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: “The Failure to Talk Frankly About Poverty”

News Article: New York Times Editorial Board, “The Failure to Talk Frankly About Poverty,” New York Times, Sept. 13, 2016.

News Coverage: “Court Costs Entrap Nonwhite, Poor Juvenile Offenders”

News Coverage: Erik Eckholm, Court Costs Entrap Nonwhite, Poor Juvenile Offenders, New York Times, Aug. 31, 2016.

New Article: “Serfdom Without Overlords: Lawyers and the Fight Against Class Inequality”

New Article: Eli Wald, Serfdom Without Overlords: Lawyers and the Fight Against Class Inequality, 54 U. Louisville L. Rev. 269 (2016).  Abstract below:

Lawyers are not very engaged in the public discourse about class inequality in America, reflecting a belief that class inequality is primarily an economic and political problem rather than a legal one. Because lawyers are not commonly perceived to be a cause of the class problem, some believe that lawyers should not be part of the solution. This article challenges the legal profession’s passive stance on class inequality, arguing that all lawyers have an important role to play in the fight against inequality.

The article first identifies a class challenge for lawyers, the rise of an increasingly segregated and stratified legal profession, based on attorneys’ socioeconomic status, showing that the well-documented and growing opportunity gap among our kids will result in a growing opportunity gap among our lawyers. It then disproves an enticing retort dismissing the growing opportunity gaps among our kids and lawyers as somebody else’s problems, asserting that lawyers in their (neglected) role as public citizens have a special duty to address inequalities affecting our kids, and that lawyers as officers of the legal system must combat inequality within the profession.

The rest of the article explores the means by which law schools, law firms, lawyers and the organized bar can and should help fight class inequality. Its main claim is that all lawyers must take part in a capital campaign designed to narrow our kids’ and lawyers’ opportunity gaps, a campaign involving no expenditure of economic capital. Rather, American lawyers, the affluent as well as the less prosperous, possess ample social and cultural capital — connections, relationships, and ties, as well as knowledge, information, and experience — which are the very assets that explain the opportunity gaps.

Law schools amplify lawyers’ opportunity gap by using admission, teaching and grading policies that privilege the affluent at the expense of the less fortunate, and can become part of the solution by replacing these criteria with policies that give everybody an equal opportunity to be admitted and excel based on merit considerations. Law firms systematically, if implicitly, trade in and rely on their lawyers’ social, cultural, and identity capital to make hiring and promotion decisions. They can become part of the solution by transparently acknowledging the role of social, cultural, and identity capital in their practices and providing all lawyers equal opportunities to acquire the requisite capital needed for success within their ranks. Lawyers, in turn, must lend their social and cultural capital assets to help build the capital endowments of the underprivileged. Finally, the organized bar must act as an intermediary connecting lawyers with disadvantaged kids and lawyers, and support the roles of lawyers as public citizens and officers of the legal system. In sum, the legal profession can and should play a meaningful role in narrowing the opportunity gap afflicting our kids and our lawyers.