Why the narrative of personal responsibility slips so easily into racism

When it comes to explaining poverty and inequality in the U.S., there tend to be two broad categories of explanations. The first is personal responsibility. On this narrative, poverty and inequality are caused by personal failings. The second focuses on institutional factors, arguing that poverty is a result of the choices we’ve made about the […]

Democratic Presidents Are Better For The Economy

The economy has grown much more quickly under Democratic presidents. It has also grown more equally. Since World War II, working class incomes have grown eight times as fast under Democrats, and middle class incomes have grown twice as fast. Nor has this come at the cost of the wealthy, whose incomes have grown equally […]

An Unhappy Labor Day: Wages are falling across the U.S.

Perhaps the most important economic trend of the past fifty years is also one of the least discussed. Wages are falling. In the 1950s and 1960s, wages grew as the economy grew. But in the early 1970s, wages for the majority of the population became uncoupled from economic growth. First, for those unfamiliar, a quick […]

Why do poor people make bad decisions?

In their new book, Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much, economist Sendhil Mullainathan and psychologist Eldar Shafir team up to tackle the question of how scarcity impacts decision-making behavior. Scarcity of money can actually cause poor decisions, as can scarcity of time, calories, or friends. The remarkable finding of the book is just how […]