NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Inequality and Institutions in 20th Century America

Frank Levy, Peter Temin

NBER Working Paper No. 13106
Issued in May 2007
NBER Program(s):   DAE   LS   POL

We provide a comprehensive view of widening income inequality in the United States contrasting conditions since 1980 with those in earlier postwar years. We argue that the income distribution in each period was strongly shaped by a set of economic institutions. The early postwar years were dominated by unions, a negotiating framework set in the Treaty of Detroit, progressive taxes, and a high minimum wage -- all parts of a general government effort to broadly distribute the gains from growth. More recent years have been characterized by reversals in all these dimensions in an institutional pattern known as the Washington Consensus. Other explanations for income disparities including skill-biased technical change and international trade are seen as factors operating within this broader institutional story.

download in pdf format
   (206 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13106

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Blanchard and GalĂ­ w13368 The Macroeconomic Effects of Oil Shocks: Why are the 2000s So Different from the 1970s?
Piketty and Saez w11955 The Evolution of Top Incomes: A Historical and International Perspective
Kane, Rockoff, and Staiger w12155 What Does Certification Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness? Evidence from New York City
Gordon and Dew-Becker w13982 Controversies about the Rise of American Inequality: A Survey
Piketty and Saez w8467 Income Inequality in the United States, 1913-1998 (series updated to 2000 available)
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us