Bob Williams Writes Book Chapter
Professor of Economics Bob Williams has written a chapter in a forthcoming book entitled Toward a Good Society in the Twenty-first Century: Principles and Policies.
Ever since President Kennedy’s suggestion that economic growth acts like “a rising tide that lifts all boats,” many have invoked this metaphor to assert the broadly shared benefits of prosperity. Bob’s research challenges this view on both ecological and economic grounds.
Unlike the picturesque harbor scene evoked by JFK’s eloquence, tidal systems are highly turbulent ecosystems subject to daily fluctuations in water levels, temperatures, turbidity and salinity. Only the most resilient species thrive in such volatile, yet productive environments.
Similarly, over the past generation, the U.S. economy has experienced a period of unprecedented wealth accumulation before suffering a financial collapse in 2008. Not all households have fared equally well under these turbulent conditions.
Based on detailed survey data, his research demonstrates how the vast accumulation of household wealth from 1989-2007 largely benefited the nation’s wealthiest households. He shows how the resultant rise in wealth disparities is attributable to largely mundane, systemic advantages that accrue to those already wealthy. In contrast, these circumstances left many other households “high and dry.”
Bob is currently at work on a related book project, tentatively titled Wealth Privilege.