Unequal Chances: Family Background and Economic Success

Princeton University Press
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Is the United States "the land of equal opportunity" or is the playing field tilted in favor of those whose parents are wealthy, well educated, and white? If family background is important in getting ahead, why? And if the processes that transmit economic status from parent to child are unfair, could public policy address the problem? Unequal Chances provides new answers to these questions by leading economists, sociologists, biologists, behavioral geneticists, and philosophers.

New estimates show that intergenerational inequality in the United States is far greater than was previously thought. Moreover, while the inheritance of wealth and the better schooling typically enjoyed by the children of the well-to-do contribute to this process, these two standard explanations fail to explain the extent of intergenerational status transmission. The genetic inheritance of IQ is even less important. Instead, parent-offspring similarities in personality and behavior may play an important role. Race contributes to the process, and the intergenerational mobility patterns of African Americans and European Americans differ substantially.


Following the editors' introduction are chapters by Greg Duncan, Ariel Kalil, Susan E. Mayer, Robin Tepper, and Monique R. Payne; Bhashkar Mazumder; David J. Harding, Christopher Jencks, Leonard M. Lopoo, and Susan E. Mayer; Anders Björklund, Markus Jäntti, and Gary Solon; Tom Hertz; John C. Loehlin; Melissa Osborne Groves; Marcus W. Feldman, Shuzhuo Li, Nan Li, Shripad Tuljapurkar, and Xiaoyi Jin; and Adam Swift.

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About the author

Samuel Bowles is Research Professor and director of the Behavioral Sciences Program at the Santa Fe Institute, and professor of Economics at the University of Siena. He is the author of Microeconomics (Princeton); the coauthor, with Herbert Gintis, of Democracy and Capitalism; and the coeditor, with Kenneth Arrow and Steven Durlauf, of Meritocracy and Inequality (Princeton). Herbert Gintis is an external faculty member at the Santa Fe Institute and professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the author of Game Theory Evolving (Princeton). Melissa Osborne Groves is associate professor of economics at Towson University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Oct 15, 2009
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9781400835492
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economic History
Business & Economics / Economics / General
Business & Economics / Economics / Theory
Social Science / Social Classes & Economic Disparity
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A Wall Street Journal and Washington Post Bestseller

"Tyler Cowen's blog, Marginal Revolution, is the first thing I read every morning. And his brilliant new book, The Complacent Class, has been on my nightstand after I devoured it in one sitting. I am at round-the-clock Cowen saturation right now."--Malcolm Gladwell

Since Alexis de Tocqueville, restlessness has been accepted as a signature American trait. Our willingness to move, take risks, and adapt to change have produced a dynamic economy and a tradition of innovation from Ben Franklin to Steve Jobs.

The problem, according to legendary blogger, economist and best selling author Tyler Cowen, is that Americans today have broken from this tradition—we’re working harder than ever to avoid change. We're moving residences less, marrying people more like ourselves and choosing our music and our mates based on algorithms that wall us off from anything that might be too new or too different. Match.com matches us in love. Spotify and Pandora match us in music. Facebook matches us to just about everything else.

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Perrow, the author of award-winning books on organizations, employs his witty, trenchant, and graceful style here to maximum effect. Colorful vignettes abound: today's headlines echo past battles for unchecked organizational freedom; socially responsible alternatives that were tried are explored along with the historical contingencies that sent us down one road rather than another. No other book takes the role of organizations in America's development as seriously. The resultant insights presage a new historical genre.

A compelling look at a new class of the affluent - the middle-class millionaires – whose attitudes and values are influencing and reshaping American life

In this groundbreaking book, Russ Alan Prince and Lewis Schiff examine the far-reaching impact of the middle class millionaires–people who enjoy a net worth ranging from one million to ten million dollars and have earned rather than inherited their wealth. Comprising 8.4 million households and growing in number, the attitudes and behaviors of these working rich are exerting a powerful influence over our society. So who are these people? They believe in the benefits of hard work. They believe in investing in themselves, and in self improvement. They are more likely to focus on drawing financial gain from their work, and less inclined to be discouraged by failure. And they don’t spend money on the extravagances indulged in by the very rich; instead, they wield their affluence according to middle-class values and ideals. From home security systems to health care, technology to travel, their spending choices are affecting us all – from the products we buy, to the communities in which we live, to the aspirations and values of the broader middle class and American population as a whole.

In the bestselling tradition of Bobos in Paradise and The Millionaire Next Door, THE MIDDLE-CLASS MILLIONAIRE is a captivating narrative – part sociology, and part aspirational journey into the lives, attitudes, and values of the middle-class millionaires. Based on extensive surveys and research into more than 3,600 middle-class millionaire households around the country, this book will reshape our understanding of what it takes to be successful – and how all of us can achieve similar success.
Critically acclaimed journalist Ellen Ruppel Shell uncovers the true cost--political, economic, social, and personal--of America's mounting anxiety over jobs, and what we can do to regain control over our working lives.

Since 1973, our productivity has grown almost six times faster than our wages. Most of us rank so far below the top earners in the country that the "winners" might as well inhabit another planet. But work is about much more than earning a living. Work gives us our identity, and a sense of purpose and place in this world. And yet, work as we know it is under siege.

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