Viewing entries tagged
Poverty and Inequality

The Net Price of a Public College Education in the US

… if you’re on a tight budget and seeking a two- or four-year degree, public colleges are the way to go (unless, of course, a private school is offering a fantastic scholarship package). My basic message is that college degrees from public institutions are usually very affordable. Scary news stories about the cost of getting a degree usually refer to the “sticker price” of colleges, but that’s a ridiculous metric: only the affluent pay anything close to the full sticker price. What’s important is the net price of college - that is, after grants and scholarships.

Neighborhood Matters: Increase Residential Mobility, Decrease Inequality

Back in the day, I ran an adult education and vocational training program in Chester, Pennsylvania. At the time, Chester had the highest unemployment and crime rates in the state of Pennsylvania. The program’s ultimate goal was to find decent jobs for our students. That would have been impossible if their job search were limited to Chester. The jobs were in Philly - around 30 minutes away by train. Unfortunately, many students were terrified at the prospect of going to Philadelphia; some had never been there their entire life. So field trips to Philadelphia became part of the curriculum.

Which Legacy Counts? The Case of Racial Differences in Homeownership, Part II

According to a 2006 HUD report covering the period of 1990 - 2003, close to half of low-income buyers did not sustain home ownership for more than five years. However, HUD found no evidence that first-time buyers were systematically using higher cost or riskier mortgage products during this period. Instead the report noted that “the share of low-income home buyers with severe payment burdens (over half of income) rose from 14.5% of buyers in the first part of the 1990s to 20.1% by 2003”.

Which Legacy Counts? The Case of Racial Differences in Homeownership, Part I

So many questions! For instance, why do government policies that ended over 50 years ago count more towards the “legacy” than more recent policies? Is homeownership a necessary condition for social mobility? When does homeownership undermine social mobility? How much does wealth facilitate social mobility? What other factors come into play?

Why Is There So Much More Homelessness in Oakland than San Diego?

This was a very bad year for Oakland, California: poor town was just revealed to have the highest per capita homeless rate in the state. What’s going on here? My initial thought was that it must be Oakland’s homeless policy… Then I noticed that San Diego doesn’t have near the homelessness problem as Oakland, despite having beautiful weather (making living outside still awful but a bit more tolerable than being on the streets in Chicago). So I decided to dig deeper.

Crossing the Southwest Border from 2000-2018: Are There Any Clear Patterns?

No doubt these Central American countries remain violent and unsafe - but the changing numbers of families leaving for the US appear unrelated to homicides rates. Guatemala in particular has seen declining homicides for a decade and has a much lower homicide rate than El Salvador and Honduras, yet the number of Guatemalan families apprehended at the border has skyrocketed over the past three years

Behind The Headlines: "Wealthy Opponents of New Shelter Claim Homeless Are Bad for Environment"


“This project will have a significant effect on the environment due to these unusual circumstances, including by attracting additional homeless persons, open drug and alcohol use, crime, daily emergency calls, public urination and defecation, and other nuisances,” the lawsuit states.

Opponents of the shelter have long said that their ultimate concern is public safety, a point that homeless rights advocates have argued was bigoted and dehumanizing.

Fact-Checking The Democratic Debates: Statements about the US Economy

Politicians run on platforms, which are statements of goals, problems, and proposed policies that aim to achieve the goals by fixing the problems. I often share the stated goals of both Republican and Democratic politicians. Yes to widespread prosperity! What’s more likely to give me pause is their take on what’s wrong with this country and what to do about it. Consider, for example, how Democratic candidates discussed economic issues in last week’s debates:

Household Income in the US: What's Changed Since 1979?

…Of course, the most affluent households did a lot better than the rest (228% cumulative income growth for the top 1%). But even the lowest income group made significant gains (69% cumulative income growth), mostly because their taxes went down and government transfers became increasingly generous during this period.

How to Pay for The Adult Student Basic Income

Poverty, income volatility, job instability, and lack of social mobility are real problems in the US. While most Americans manage to climb the socioeconomic ladder to achieve a decent version of the American Dream, some get stuck on the lower rungs. They need help.

What To Do About Chronic Homelessness in California: A Suggestion, Part II

Now for the pricing plan. HUD already has rent-subsidy programs that cover up to a third of rent. The big California cities also provide rent subsidies. For instance, in the opening quote, Major Breed’s rent subsidy plan worked out to $6,000 per year per housing unit. That’s pretty reasonable. But subsidizing residential hotel units would be even cheaper. Check it out…

What To Do About Chronic Homelessness in California: A Suggestion, Part I

Consider: San Francisco had 65,000 residential hotel units in 1910, compared to around 19,000 units today. These were teeny rooms (typically 8 x10 feet) with barely enough space for a bed and a dresser (bathroom down the hall) but at least they offered shelter and safety from the streets. Many of the individuals who lived in these units were single men with problems that plague the chronically homeless today: substance abuse, mental illness, disability. Just like today.

The difference is they had a place to stay.

How Much Do CEOs Get Paid And Why

Per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 195,530 chief executives in 2018, with a mean annual salary of $200,140. That doesn’t seem unfairly high, given that the mean annual compensation for physicians in 2018 was $299,000.  But the CEO pay that gets people riled up isn’t what run-of-the-mill chief executives get, it’s the CEOs pulling in millions working for the top companies. For instance, the $14 million average annual compensation paid to S&P 500 CEOs…