America the Unequal: Origins and Impacts of a Policy Revolution

Source: Josh Bivens, Dēmos, 2013

This paper reassesses the origins and effects of the neoliberal policy revolution launched in the late 1970s. … This paper argues that growing inequality is not just the most salient economic fact of life for the vast majority of American families over the past generation; it is also a direct consequence of profound changes in economic policy, with systematic distributional implication. We begin by charting out the changes in policy that were undertaken, and then provide an examination of why these changes were proposed and (more importantly) what led to their adoption. The paper concludes by assessing what can be learned about policy impacts on the distribution of economic rewards, and by identifying the challenges and opportunities inherent in undertaking a political campaign to brake or reverse the rise in inequality …