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Politics & Current Affairs

What to Do About the Growing Class Divide

A new book, Coming Apart by Charles Murphy, cites statistics that suggest the class divide in America is growing. But why? And what to do about it? Gary Becker and Richard Posner weigh in. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Coming Apart, a new book by Charles Murphy, cites statistics which suggest that opportunity, i.e. economic mobility, is increasingly a poorly distributed good in society. In other words, children of successful parents are more likely to succeed, relative to their peers, than at any time during the first half of the 20th century. Murphy writes that we can help solve this problem by eliminating unpaid internships, eliminating the SAT exam as a college entrance requirement and by preventing companies from listing a college degree as necessary to apply for a job. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Gary Becker and Richard Posner, a Nobel laureate and federal judge, respectively, do not believe Murphy’s solutions address the cause of the current class divide. Becker cites statistics about the erosion of working class families during the second half of the 20th century, mostly caused by rising divorce rates. Posner says that as the American economy has become knowledge-based, moving away from being manufacturing-based, blue collar men have had to compete harder for jobs that pay less. He recommends a more redistributive tax policy.

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