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The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy

Author

Listed:
  • Temin, Peter

    () (MIT, Department of Economics)

Abstract

The United States is becoming a nation of rich and poor, with few families in the middle. In this book, MIT economist Peter Temin offers an illuminating way to look at the vanishing middle class. Temin argues that American history and politics, particularly slavery and its aftermath, play an important part in the widening gap between rich and poor. Temin employs a well-known, simple model of a dual economy to examine the dynamics of the rich/poor divide in America, and outlines ways to work toward greater equality so that America will no longer have one economy for the rich and one for the poor. Many poorer Americans live in conditions resembling those of a developing country—substandard education, dilapidated housing, and few stable employment opportunities. And although almost half of black Americans are poor, most poor people are not black. Conservative white politicians still appeal to the racism of poor white voters to get support for policies that harm low-income people as a whole, casting recipients of social programs as the Other—black, Latino, not like "us." Politicians also use mass incarceration as a tool to keep black and Latino Americans from participating fully in society. Money goes to a vast entrenched prison system rather than to education. In the dual justice system, the rich pay fines and the poor go to jail.

Suggested Citation

  • Temin, Peter, 2017. "The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262036169, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262036169
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. John Komlos, 2018. "Reaganomics: A Historical Watershed," CESifo Working Paper Series 7301, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Gabe, Todd M. & Abel, Jaison R. & Florida, Richard, 2018. "Can low-wage workers find better jobs?," Staff Reports 846, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    3. Grafström, Jonas, 2017. "Technological Change and Wage Polarization – The Illiberal Populist Response," Ratio Working Papers 294, The Ratio Institute.
    4. Stephen Smith, 2018. "Development Economics Meets the Challenges of Lagging U.S. Areas: Applications to Education, Health and Nutrition, Behavior, and Infrastructure," Working Papers 2018-7, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    inequality; economics; political science; capitalism; United States; racecraft; classism; racism; oppression; low-wage; human capital; social capital; political power; economic elite; elite theory; ruling class; politics; dual economy;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J82 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Labor Force Composition
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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