An economist and a business advisor discuss what might happen if the gap between rich and poor continues to grow.
Inequality is on the rise in the United States. Stanford experts discuss possible solutions. | Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
The U.S. economy hit a historic high in 2018, and today unemployment is at its lowest rate in five decades. Yet wage growth for the vast majority of Americans has stalled, and more people are struggling to afford housing, health care, education, and other basics.
“Times are good if you are college educated and working in the right industries in the right locations,” says economist Paul Oyer. “But the last 50 years have been terrible for people with lower skills. Adjusted for inflation, the average earnings of a man who didn’t go to college is lower now than it was 50 years ago. That’s unheard of.”
Oyer, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, teaches a course to MBAs focused on causes and complications of U.S. inequality. The course is co-taught by Lenny Mendonca, MBA ’87, who serves as California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s chief economic and business advisor and oversees the state’s Office of Economic Development.
Here, they discuss what is driving inequality, vet proposed solutions, and speculate what will happen if the trend continues.