kitchen table math, the sequel: the Great Compression, part 2

Monday, June 9, 2008

the Great Compression, part 2

the Great Compression, part 1:
[I]nequality decreased in the 1940s and the reductions were substantial. The narrowing of the wage structure during the 1940s has been termed the "Great Compression." It involved a world war, inflation, tight labor markets, rising union strength, and substantial government intervention in the labor market.
p. 54

Apparently, the "Great Compression" is famous amongst economists and economic historians; it has been studied extensively.

As it turns out, the "Great Compression" was not a post-Depression phenomenon. It went on for many decades, and it preceded the Depression. The argument of The Race Between Education and Technology, assuming I have this right, is that education was the most important cause of three quarters of a century of declining inequality -- as well as the most important cause of the steadily rising inequality that commenced in the late 1970s:

The data series we unearthed and compiled revealed that the wage structure and the returns to education and skill all moved in the direction of greater equality decades before the better known Great Compression of the 1940s. The wage structure narrowed, skill differentials were reduced, and the return to education decreased sometime between 1890 and 1940, most likely in the late 1910s. The entire compression of the wage structure across the twentieth century, therefore, was larger in magnitude, lengthier in duration, and more complicated in its reasons than has been previously recognized.”
The Race Between Education and Technology, p. 57

The book is revolutionary.

Thus far it confirms everything many of us have assumed -- felt, in my case -- to be true.

Steve Levitt summarizes The Race in 2 sentences
Jimmy graduates

The anemic response of skill investment to skill premium growth
The declining American high school graduation rate: Evidence, sources, and consequences
Pushy parents raise more successful kids

The Race Between Education and Technology book review
The Race Between Ed & Tech: excerpt & TOC & SAT scores & public loss of confidence in the schools
The Race Between Ed & Tech: the Great Compression
the Great Compression, part 2
ED in '08: America's schools
comments on Knowledge Schools
the future
the stick kids from mud island
educated workers and technology diffusion
declining value of college degree
Goldin, Katz and fans
best article thus far: Chronicle of Higher Education on The Race
Tyler Cowan on The Race (NY Times)
happiness inequality down...
an example of lagging technology diffusion in the U.S.

the Times reviews The Race, finally
IQ, college, and 2008 election
Bloomington High School & "path dependency"
the election debate that should have been

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