James J. Heckman and Alan B. Krueger, Inequality in America: What Role for Human Capital Policies?
James J. Heckman and Alan B. Krueger Alan B. Krueger (born September 17, 1960) is a U.S. economist, Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University and Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. , Inequality in America: What Role for Human Capital Policies? Cambridge, MA: MIT MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2004. $40.00 cloth.
Income inequality has increased substantially during the last three decades, reversing the trend toward more equal incomes that characterized much of the twentieth century. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the introduction to this book, since 1974, the share of income going to families in the top fifth of the income distribution has increased from 41 to 48 percent, while the share going to the bottom fifth has declined from 6 to 4 percent. Much of this increase in inequality may be attributed to a growing wage gap between highly-educated and less-educated individuals. Those with the most education have seen their incomes increase, while the incomes of those with less education have stagnated or even declined. These patterns lead to the central question of the book reviewed here: If differences in education and skills (human capital) contribute substantially to inequality, what can and should the government do to promote human capital?
The book includes papers and discussions presented at the third Alvin Hansen Alvin Harvey Hansen (1887-1975), often referred to as "the American Keynes", brought the 1930s Keynesian economics revolution to the United States. A professor of economics at Harvard, he was a prolific writer who also played an important role in the creation of the Council of Symposium on Public Policy, sponsored by the economics department at Harvard University Harvard University, mainly at Cambridge, Mass., including Harvard College, the oldest American college. Harvard College
Harvard College, originally for men, was founded in 1636 with a grant from the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. . The first two chapters consist of invited papers, one by Alan Krueger and one by Pedro Carneiro Pedro Carneiro is a Portuguese solo classical percussionist, marimba player, and composer. Pedro Carneiro is one of the very few percussion players to have made an international career as a soloist, and has established himself as one of the world's foremost solo percussionists, and James Heckman James Joseph "Jim" Heckman (born April 19, 1944) is an economist at the University of Chicago. He shared the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2000 with Daniel McFadden for his pioneering work in econometrics and microeconomics. . These economists are well-known for their work on the economics of education, and these chapters are the heart of the book. The third chapter consists of comments on the Krueger and Carneiro/Heckman papers by five other distinguished economists. The last two chapters consist of responses and rejoinders by Krueger and Carneiro/Heckman.
Both the Krueger and Carneiro/Heckman chapters are grounded in economic theory, and both marshal a wealth of empirical evidence to support their arguments about what policies are likely and unlikely to increase human capital for those in the lower half of this distribution. Both give attention to non-cognitive skills such as persistence, reliability, and motivation, as well as cognitive skills cognitive skill Psychology Any of a number of acquired skills that reflect an individual's ability to think; CSs include verbal and spatial abilities, and have a significant hereditary component .
The areas of disagreement between the two papers are large, however. Krueger asserts that there is too much inequality in the U.S. economy and argues that the government should increase investments in a broad range of existing programs. For example, he calls for full funding of Head Start, smaller K-12 classes, and greater funding for vocational training. Krueger is also in favor of allocating disproportionately more resources to programs that serve disadvantaged individuals in order to reduce inequality.
The recommendations offered by Carneiro and Heckman place less emphasis on reducing inequality and more on efficiency. These scholars argue that investments should be targeted toward young children and away from less-skilled adults. Citing evidence that cognitive and non-cognitive deficits appear early in life, they argue that human capital policy should focus on families, not just schools. And, they emphasize the need for policy evaluations to account for a full range of costs, including the efficiency costs associated with taxation and the loss of programs that could have been funded in the absence of chosen human capital programs.
When these very different recommendations are combined with the response and counter-response structure of the book, the text takes on the flavor of an intellectual debate. This characteristic is both strength and weakness. Many readers will find it stimulating to be in the company of such bright minds who attack an important question with intellectual rigor rigor /rig·or/ (rig´er) [L.] chill; rigidity.
rigor mor´tis the stiffening of a dead body accompanying depletion of adenosine triphosphate in the muscle fibers. . In the end, however, the debate seems to somewhat overshadow o·ver·shad·ow
tr.v. o·ver·shad·owed, o·ver·shad·ow·ing, o·ver·shad·ows
1. To cast a shadow over; darken or obscure.
2. To make insignificant by comparison; dominate. the policy questions. Finding the answers to the book's central question, "what role for human capital policy?" may require a second and even third reading. And different readers will likely formulate different answers. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , this book offers no simple five-step formula for increasing skills and reducing inequality. This is the murky reality of policy, however, where decisions require value judgments and different conclusions are inevitable. For readers who are familiar with economic terminology and who are interested in weighing opposing arguments and even grappling with value questions involving trade-offs between efficiency and equity, this book will stimulate thinking about policies to improve education and skill levels.
University of Kansas The University of Kansas (often referred to as KU or just Kansas) is an institution of higher learning in Lawrence, Kansas. The main campus resides atop Mount Oread.