First-Year Studies: From the Great Society to the Great Recession: The Economics and Politics of Inequality in America

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FYS

Between 1947 and 1974, the productivity of the average American worker rose by approximately 104%—and the wages of the average American worker rose by 104%. But between 1975 and 2008, while productivity nearly doubled, real wages remained stagnant or even declined. What changed? This course will examine varying explanations for the rise of economic inequality in American life, including globalization/outsourcing, technological change, the influence of money on public policy, and the plummeting rate of private-sector unionization. We’ll examine the economic impact of this rising inequality, including its contribution to the recent financial/economic crisis. Finally, we’ll examine the impact of increasing inequality on our political process, including the rise of movements such as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.