Hoover Institution book explores income inequality, honors Nobel economist


The new Hoover Institution book, Inequality and Economic Policy: Essays in Memory of Gary Becker, is a collection of writings by economists who examine the many facets of income inequality.

The book was published to honor the late economist GARY BECKER, a Nobel Prize winner and senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, who died in 2014.

JOHN TAYLOR, a co-editor of the book and the George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics at Hoover, described Becker as a pioneering researcher on inequality and human capital.

“His conclusion that ‘encouraging a better quality and more effective schooling and training, especially for those at the bottom and middle of the human capital distribution, will raise economic growth and reduce inequality of earnings,’ is reinforced by many of the contributors to this book,” said Taylor, also the Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics at Stanford.

He added, “It was an honor to pay tribute to Becker’s consequential work.”

Taylor noted that while inequality is a complex issue, the U.S. is renowned for focusing on upward mobility – and must continue to do so in the future.

“We need to be smarter about government assistance and focus on reforming our education system so people are better equipped with the skills and talent to enter the workforce,” he said.

The issue of income inequality is a hot political issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. According to Hoover, the authors in Inequality and Economic Policy address the role of human capital, supply restrictions and government policy in how it all shapes income inequality and intergenerational mobility.

Some writers cite the need for a competitive free market, especially within the educational system, and targeted economic policies. For example, suggestions include expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, which some believe would help economically lift up the poor.

JOHN COCHRANE, a contributor to the book and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, said that society has taken an “unfortunate misstep” in how it approaches income inequality.

“Wealth redistribution is not a long-term sustainable solution, and it is a distraction from the real challenge of promoting economic growth and decreasing poverty. We need instead to address the large economic problems which face lower-income Americans,” he said.

Co-editors include TOM CHURCH, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution who studies income inequality, poverty, health care policy, entitlement reform and immigration reform, and CHRIS MILLER, the associate director of the Program in Grand Strategy at Yale University.

 By Jenny Mayfield and Clifton B. Parker