Inequality in America
Featured Speaker: Professor Nir Jaimovich, Katherine Meckel, PhD, Professor David Arnold, Professor Tom Vogl, Professor Gordon Dahl
Public and private organizations have been studying the disparity of wealth in America (and elsewhere) for as long as it has been determined to exist. They have put forth theories about the principal causes, and have proposed courses of action to improve the situation, but disparity persists in access to nutrition, education, housing, etc. Perhaps this is inevitable. This lecture series will examine five contributing socio/economic aspects of the problem: technology advancements, food availability, impacts of the judicial system, global fertility, and incarceration policies. Perhaps a clearer understanding of “the inequality” will emerge at the conclusion of these lectures.
January 11: Job Polarization: The Macro Impact
Professor Nir Jaimovich
Technological advances over the last few decades have left an indelible mark on how work is done. Automation and the processes behind it have transformed the nature of work. These advances have not only made us more productive; they have also fundamentally changed the types of jobs we do, who does them, and the way that we do them. This lecture will discuss the macroeconomic implications of these advances. It will also consider various policy options while evaluating their cost-benefit analysis.
January 25: Nutrition Assistance Programs in the U.S.: Reducing Inequality Through the Retail Grocery Sector
Katherine Meckel, PhD
In the United States, nutrition assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or “Food Stamps”), provide vouchers that low-income households can redeem at grocery stores for food products. Nutrition assistance programs have grown rapidly in recent years — in 2021, for example, over 41 million Americans received SNAP benefits. This lecture will start out with an introduction to the nutrition assistance landscape, describing the major programs and recent history. It will then discuss findings from recent economics research, with a focus on the efficacy of reducing inequality by contracting with the retail grocery sector.
February 8: Pretrial Detention in the United States: Inequalities and Recent Policy Initiatives
Professor David Arnold
In the United States roughly 11 million individuals face a bail hearing each year. Recent work has documented the impacts the bail system has on individuals, highlighting system inequalities. The first part of this lecture will review recent work that examines administrative data to document these inequalities and explores reasons why they occur. The second part of the lecture will discuss recent policy initiatives to improve the pretrial-detention system in terms of effectiveness as well as fairness.
February 22: Inequality and Fertility: A Global View
Professor Tom Vogl
This lecture will consider the patterning of fertility along social and economic lines in the United States and around the world. Who has more children and why? What consequences do these patterns have for the makeup of the next generation? We will discuss the history of scholarly thinking on these questions, how their answers change during the process of economic development, and how they interdepend with the extent of economic inequality. We will also focus on socioeconomic variation in family size and will touch on cultural variation and its consequences.
March 8: Can Prison Be Rehabilitative?
Professor Gordon Dahl
Incarceration rates have tripled in the U.S. and almost doubled in Western Europe over the past 50 years. These trends raise important questions about how well ex-convicts reintegrate into society after incarceration, including whether prison contributes to rising inequality. After reviewing the literature on the effects of incarceration in the U.S., Professor Dahl will talk about some of his recent research on Norway’s prison system. In contrast to the U.S., where incarceration appears to encourage reoffending and damages labor prospects, the Norwegian prison system is successful in increasing participation in job-training programs, encouraging employment, and discouraging crime. Norway’s high rehabilitation expenditures are more than offset by the corresponding benefits to society.
Nir Jaimovich is an applied macroeconomics researcher who has a particular interest in business cycles, labor market dynamics, and the macroeconomic implications of micro-product-level data. He received his PhD in Economics from Northwestern University and had subsequent academic careers at UCSD, Stanford University, Duke University, the Marshall Business School at USC, and the University of Zurich.
Katherine Meckel is Assistant Professor of Economics at UC San Diego. She is an applied microeconomist whose research lies at the intersection of public economics and health economics. Her work has been published in top journals such as the American Economic Review and American Economic Journal: Applied. She received her BA from Yale University and a PhD in Economics from Columbia University.
David Arnold is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Economics and Director of Instruction at UC San Diego. He is a labor economist with a focus on imperfect competition and racial discrimination. His work has been cited in outlets such as the New York Times and VoxEU. He received his BA from UC Berkeley and his PhD from Princeton.
Tom Vogl is Associate Professor of Economics at UC San Diego. A development economist and economic demographer, he studies health and population issues in low- and middle-income countries. He is currently co-editor of the Journal of Development Economics and recently completed a term as deputy editor of Demography. Vogl received his AB from Princeton and his PhD from Harvard.
Gordon Dahl is Professor of Economics at UC San Diego. His research interests are in labor economics and applied microeconomics, including a wide set of issues that range from how family income affects child achievement, to peer effects among coworkers and family members, to the dynamics of domestic violence, and to intergenerational links in welfare use. He received his BA from Brigham Young University and a PhD in Economics from Princeton University.
Coordinator: Steve Clarey
1/11/2023 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
1/25/2023 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
2/8/2023 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
2/22/2023 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
3/8/2023 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Included with membership, no registration required.