America: Unequal

Fall 2019
David Grusky

The U.S. is in the midst of an inequality explosion. The upper class has become wondrously rich. Abject poverty is on the rise. A de facto caste system – in which opportunities to get ahead depend on a birth lottery – is firmly in place and is now viewed as natural. The historic decline in gender inequality, which many had thought would continue on until full equality was achieved, has stalled out for many key outcomes. And extreme racial discrimination and racial animus remain at the center of the American story some 150 years after the end of the Civil War. All of this has happened in a so-called land of opportunity. But how did it happen? Why have so many forms of inequality come to be seen as normal and natural? What are the costs of running a highly unequal society? And are there any equalizing forces on the horizon? 

This course is one of the required courses for the minor in Poverty, Inequality, and Policy.