Showing posts with the label inequality

Some (Non-Biden) Reasons There Might Be More Unity in the U.S. in the Future

Might there be more unity? There are some more fundamental reasons than Biden or Trump why there could be more unity in the U.S. in the next few years: COVID-19 and the Capitol insurrection. Anecdotally, we all have stories of people coming together in times of crisis: families shifting roles to make ends meet in wartime or even just the surprisingly rapid change in social habits that happened last March as people in many parts of the country isolated nearly overnight. Some research backs up the anecdotes. Here I'll lump together work on both inequality and polarization since both involve a sort of unity in the population. First, a body of surveys and experiments finds that cooperation within local communities increases cooperation during wartime. Relatedly, the relationship between the rate of return to wealth and growth, which Piketty controversially tied to inequality, tends to flip during war time . 1   More recently, while we can all think of the COVID-19 crisis as being shar

Be Careful About a Stubborn Attachment to Growth

Rob Wiblin interviewed economist Tyler Cowen on the 80,000 hours podcast (“the show about the world’s most pressing problems and how you can use your career to solve them”) and as I would expect, it was a consistently stimulating conversation. Cowen presented on his new book, Stubborn Attachments , which argues that we should place dramatic importance on economic growth because most of humanity’s expected value lies in the future, and economic growth is the most reliable help we can offer future generations. I think the thesis is largely correct, and I'm glad he's making such a strong case for creating an economically prosperous future. I want to contend, though, that growth as conventionally measured does not always do justice to the sort of growth that matters for the long-term future. Cowen makes a good case for providing future generations with as many resources as possible, but economic growth is a systematically imperfect measure of resources. In particular, it's n