SHOW FULL TEXT
And from the American tobacco historic district I’m Frank Stasio. Why does the wealth gap matter the wealth gap is growing in the United States . A recent report from the Pew Research Center shows that the American middle class continues to lose ground financially to the upper class experts say there’s growing inequality has an effect on health , wellbeing , levels of violence and much much more , a collaboration between the University of North Carolina schools of business . Public health and law is exploring causes and solutions to the wealth gap . The latest instalment featured experts in demographics in public health . Jim Johnson’s , a professor of strategy and entrepreneurship . Also , the director of the Urban Investment Strategy Center at UNC-Chapel Hill , welcome back . Thank you to write , but I had to be here is good to have you brought a friend Richard Wilkinson is a professor emeritus of social epidemiology at the University of Nottingham Medical School in England , also the co-founder and a board member of the Equality Trust welcomed Richard good to have you here as well as we here . Thank you . I don’t know if your friends but I know that you have your colleagues anyway angry become friends we new friend absolutely Jim actually your demographics experts tell us what you know and kind of how that plays into our understanding of the wealth gap .
Well , first of all , our country has become far more diverse racially and ethnically driven in large part by immigration about 92% of net growth and our population over the last 16 years has been driven by people of color , mainly people from Asia and Latin America. There are transforming the complexion of our society .
So we look different , we have , but also there have been economic forces changes in our economy over the last several decades absolutely that have really accelerated this wealth gap.
Tell us about the absolutely right. So our economy is undergoing a profound , structural change beginning in the 1980s by the decline of high wage highly unionized manufacturing employment something we call deindustrialization we lost about 7.2 men if million manufacturing jobs between 1970 man 2015 . A lot of those jobs went offshore . Some were replaced by automation that impacted a large number of people who are employed in those industries . Those industries typically were high wage jobs that enables people to form and maintain stable families to buy homes to send their kids to school and when those jobs disappeared from the economy , it left behind a group of people who skills that did not match the the new economy which focus primarily on information oriented jobs jobs that required ability to do here work as opposed to have worked .
And Richard Wilkinson you point out that this was not. I mean , this may sound like all those technological change their changes in economic relations changes in the global economy . Those things happen , well outside of our power to do anything about them but you also point that even a decade earlier , well not a decade earlier . But but beginning in the 1980s , something else happened that was significant in terms of the relationship between the productivity in the way the economy this .
Patton of widening income differences is very widespread most developed countries have gone through a rise a period of rising inequality from somewhere around 1980 and before that they all have the same pattern to the from sometime in the 1930s right through until the late 1970s inequalities decline so there’s this long-term decline in inequality in one country after another and then the modern rise of inequality. From 1980 onwards . And it seems to me it’s driven by politics . I think that the processes gyms is Jim is talking about if you like the mechanisms , but still will be some countries and I think examples might be France and the Netherlands , which have protected themselves from these economic forces . I think it is possible to do that and so some countries have remained much more unequal much more heat .
Full than others. Well , the measure of this I think is pretty clear and in it becomes pretty obvious what was what’s at play here only again how the politics work might be another question but up until that time , that period from the , let’s say the ’30s through the ’70s there was great economic progress being made great changes in productivity improvements in productivity , but wages were locked at the hip and so wages and productivity were going hand in hand . Rising and falling at the same time they decouple in the 1980s and that is that the beginning of .
Yes , but I do think that’s because of political change. I think what we’re seeing this overall pattern is The Rise and Fall of the whole labor movement and I suspect also the fear of communism , which in some ways is good for capitalism . You know it . It made it more humane and when that threat goes and when any ideas . There is another way of that societies can work when Labour starts to lose its power . Unions are weakened partly by legislation and so on , and you get the sort of free market fundamentals ISM ideas neoliberalism from 1980 onwards with President Reagan here and Margaret Thatcher in Britain . It’s then with those ideas spreading and coupled with privatization , reduction of top tax rates and so on that you get the inequality .
Rising and it’s , it’s clear you just take a look at any graft the economic progress continues and all of a sudden wages go flat. They had been there . Only candidate but do you know what is , so what , so what , what the , what the neo-liberals will tell you it’s none of that’s great because look at that . Look at their top line productivity is improving . That’s good for all of us all .
So I think there’s another piece to it. Frank bet we are put on the table and and that is what happened to white-collar workers paralleling the offshore movement of blue-collar jobs in the ’90s , the same thing happened on the white collar side of the economy where you know jobs that require high levels of education and skills and the like . They too began to to move offshore beginning initially with IT jobs in the late ’80s , early ’90s and then progressing in the 2002 business process outsourcing anything that can be done in a back office of a firm , but most importantly and as here this tendency move white-collar jobs offshore moved all the way to the top of the value chain in corporate America to something called R and D , research and development , something we’ve always had a monopoly on in this country . Those things are those jobs also moved offshore . So the last 3 recessions have been white collar recessions . For the most part , it’s no longer just a blue collar Joe Jane , who has been disadvantaged yeah income wise and even employment , whereas in the economy . These have been almost equal opportunity cans of recessions and changes that have I have profound impact throughout our economy and men have suffered the most , and all of that I talked yesterday about the in-demand thesis that if you look at something like higher education , the sex ratio has been 60% female percent male for a decade . You know they’re far more men unemployed today are not working in the labor market than there were in 1969 I mean .
Well , does this mean I mean you said equal opportunity. In other words that that that the white collar recessions and lay offs that left behind now educated white collar workers , but in terms of resilience . It is not equal opportunity because people who had less to begin with ours . They’re still being left out in in these later recessions . That’s true .
Absolutely. They are being left out . But there are an additional group of people who are left out or who are struggling there if you looked at , you know , we are told that if you go to school get good grades , stay out of trouble with the law graduate life will be good , but at the end of the recession , if you looked at bachelor’s degree holders who were 25 years old or younger 55% of them were either unemployed or underemployed .
To Richard Wilkinson. This has a way of feeding back into these political issues that you talk about may explain some of the politics , certainly in the United States , the kind of resentments , there can be engendered when as Jim says I played by the rules . I did everything right and by the way I was told I had a privilege , where that goes .
Yes , I think it’s very clear that that’s happened , and we’re beginning to see death rates rising , particularly amongst older Paul White people in the United States. We’re also seeing the beginnings of that in , in Britain , and when you look at the causes of death that are responsible for the rising death rates with , you know , it’s a really important change in trend because for over a hundred years . Death rates have declined and sudden it stopped things are getting worse and the causes alcohol suicides drugs also car accidents things mainly associated with I think a sense of desperation . You feel that at the bottom of it is , it is a psychological force to do with people’s disappointment desperation unrealized hopes whatever it is , but I’d like to go back to .