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“Winner-­‐Take-­‐All Economics” Professional Inquiry and Public Discourse on Material Inequality

By Jonathan Pryor

What can account for the failure of economists to extend a firm guiding hand into the public discourse on material inequality in contemporary America? This paper reviews historical and modern economic literature and then extends its focus to the debates in the public sector, private opinion, “think tanks,” the news media, the private sector, special interest groups, and popular culture. The intractable social, political and economic complexity of the problem and the influence of competing interests deter attempts at economic interpretation. Economists should respond to the public need by devoting greater attention to descriptive and prescriptive analyses, developed with an appreciation of the competing interests and activities of the various sectors that must accept any response.

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Advisor: Craufurd Goodwin | JEL Codes: A11, A13, B12, B13, B14, B15 | Tagged: Economic Inequality, Income Inequality, Wealth Inequality

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