Inequality and Economic Policy

Inequality and Economic Policy

Essays in Memory of Gary Becker

Editors: Tom Church, Chris Miller, John B. Taylor
ISBN: 978-0-8179-1904-7
Publication Date: 12/1/2015

An inequality problem—or a growth problem?

Inequality and Economic Policy draws from a 2014 Hoover Institution conference on inequality in honor of Gary Becker to explore various measures of inequality in America and address the issue of why it is increasing. In looking at this question and examining policy implications, the authors draw on research on human capital and intergenerational mobility. They attempt to answer the key policy question of what to do, with particular attention paid to those at the bottom of the income distribution and the overall effects on economic growth.

Does the United States have an inequality problem? Or should policy makers focus instead on America’s growth problem? What do we know empirically about the results of previous attempts to reduce inequality? Would government policies that reduce inequality boost growth or hinder it? Clear answers to these questions are crucial if we are to make sense of the current debate about inequality.


John H. Cochrane, Charles I. Jones, Edward P. Lazear, Casey B. Mulligan, Kevin M. Murphy, Lee E. Ohanian, James Piereson, Joshua D. Rauh, Emmanuel Saez, George P. Shultz, and Jörg L. Spenkuch

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Chris Miller

Chris Miller is a research associate at the Hoover Institution, where he studies inequality, mobility, labor markets, and economic policy.

John B. Taylor

John B. Taylor is the George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics at the Hoover Institution and the Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics at Stanford University. He chairs the Hoover Working Group on Economic Policy and is director of Stanford’s Introductory Economics Center.


Tom Church

Tom Church is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. He studies income inequality, poverty, health care policy, entitlement reform, and immigration reform. He has conducted research on developing supplemental statistics to better measure income, poverty, and health insurance coverage.

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List of Tables and Figures        ix
Acknowledgements        xiii

Introduction        xv
Tom Church, Chris Miller, and John B. Taylor

ONE     Background Facts        1
             James Piereson
TWO     The Broad-Based Rise in the Return to Top Talent        17
             Joshua D. Rauh
THREE     The Economic Determinants of Top Income Inequality        49
             Charles I. Jones
FOUR     Intergenerational Mobility and Income Inequality        65
             Jorg L. Spenkuch
FIVE     The Effects of Redistribution Policies on Growth and Employment        91
             Casey B. Mulligan
SIX     Income and Wealth in America        111
             Kevin M. Murphy and Emmanuel Saez
SEVEN     Conclusions and Solutions        147
             John H. Cochrane, Lee E. Ohanian, and George P. Shultz
EIGHT     Remembering Gary Becker        181
             Edward P. Lazear and George P. Shultz

Conference Agenda        191
About the Contributors        193
About the Hoover Institution's Working Group on Economic Policy        197
Index        201

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