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Reading: "Skills, Education, and the Rise of Earnings Inequality Among the Other 99 Percent," by David H. Autor.Below are two competing views (Proposition #1 and Proposition #2) on why income inequali

Reading: "Skills, Education, and the Rise of Earnings Inequality Among the Other 99 Percent," by David H. Autor.

Below are two competing views (Proposition #1 and Proposition #2) on why income inequality has been rising (even among the lower 99%) in the United States since the 1970’s.

Proposition #1:

“More people are falling behind today because they’re lazy. In the U.S. anyone willing to work can earn a decent living. The income distribution is the same as the effort distribution. People who work hard earn a good living. Lazy people stay poor. The income distribution has been skewing because of a growing culture of dependency. It used to be shameful to accept handouts from the government, but now it’s perfectly acceptable. So, more people opt out of the labor force and sit around collecting handouts from the rest of us. Of course, their incomes are going to be lower than those in the top tiers.”

Proposition #2:

“The incomes of the rich and poor have been growing farther apart due to purposeful policy decisions that have favored the rich at the expense of the poor. Starting with Ronald Reagan’s financial deregulation, and continuing with successive Republican attacks on New Deal and Great Society social programs to finance tax cuts for their Wall Street cronies, government policy in this country has systematically channeled the rewards of our immensely productive economy towards the rich and away from the poor. America needs to open the gateway to prosperity for all through fair tax policies, decent minimum wages, better public schools, aid to low-income college students, and a universal health care system.”


Assess the degree to which each of those propositions is actually consistent with David H. Autor’s well-researched explanation of the same phenomenon. That is, for each of the propositions tell me whether or not Autor would agree that the underlying factor described in the proposition is the major cause of the pattern of income inequality since the 1970’s. (2 paragraphs)

• Begin with a topic sentence that concisely states your judgment about how consistent the two propositions are with Autor’s analysis. Then summarize Autor’s analysis. What are some of the factors Autor identifies as having contributed to an increase in the demand for highly-educated workers and a decrease in the demand for less-educated workers?

• In addition, explain why the proposition you chose is more consistent with Autor’s analysis than the other.

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