Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill propose a concrete agenda for increasing opportunity that is cost effective, consistent with American values, and focuses on improving the lives of the young and the disadvantaged. They emphasize individual responsibility as an indispensable basis for successful policies and programs.
The authors recommend a three-pronged approach to create more opportunity in America:
• Increase education for children and youth at the preschool, K–12, and postsecondary levels
• Encourage and support work among adults
• Reduce the number of out-of-wedlock births while increasing the share of children reared by their married parents
With concern for the federal deficit in mind, Haskins and Sawhill argue for reallocating existing resources, especially from the affluent elderly to disadvantaged children and their families. The authors are optimistic that a judicious use of the nation's resources can level the playing field and produce more opportunity for all.
Creating an Opportunity Society offers the most complete summary available of the facts and the factors that contribute to economic opportunity. It looks at the poor, the middle class, and the rich, providing deep background data on how each group has fared in recent decades. Unfortunately, only the rich have made substantial progress, making this book a timely guide forward for anyone interested in what we can do as a society to improve the prospects for our less-advantaged families and fellow citizens.
Kenworthy finds that inequality grew in almost all of these countries, from the most progressive to the least. Using simple but powerful statistical tests, he assesses the theory that inequality is necessary to improve economic growth and reduce poverty. He finds no necessary trade-off between equality and economic growth but discovers some evidence that high minimum wages dampen employment growth in private sector services. Kenworthy suggests that without greater private sector employment, public supports may be unable to adequately sustain living standards for the poor. An equitable growth strategy necessitates a balance of policy options: Creating jobs is aided by loose employment regulation, low payroll taxes, and, in some cases, lower real wages for workers at the bottom of the income spectrum. However, high employment is also facilitated by a system that “makes work pay” with earnings subsidies, workplace flexibilities, financial support for those who are between jobs or unable to work, and universal health and child care coverage. Kenworthy suggests that these strategies, though generally presented as mutually exclusive, could be effectively combined to create a robust, fair economy.
Egalitarian Capitalism addresses fundamental questions of national policy with rigorous scholarship and a clarity that makes it accessible to any reader interested in the alleged trade-off between social equity and market efficiency. The book analyzes the viability of traditional welfare regimes and offers sustainable options that can promote egalitarian societies without hampering economic progress.A Volume in the American Sociological Association’s Rose Series in Sociology