Coal Mining and Population Loss

My first peer-reviewed publication is out in the Journal of Appalachian Studies. I’ve posted the full paper here,  and below is a shortened and non-technical version. The Data, Methods, and Analysis section is rewritten for this blog to make it more accessible for lay readers, while the other sections are merely abridged. Coal Mining and […]

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 […]

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 […]