As the United States continues its slow climb out of the Great Recession, it is important to focus on new directions to improve the standard of living in America. This book explores what is behind a faltering standard of living in the United States since the early 1980s and what can be done to restore it. The book is uniquely valuable in going beyond mainstream thinking about how to restore prosperity. Economics has traditionally equated economic growth (increases in per capita income) with improvements in quality of life and the standard of living. This book questions that assumption. The different chapters in the book show the standard of living as being more than income, to include many non-market aspects such as access to public goods (roads, clean air and water, schools, parks, and museums), intangible aspects of quality of life such as equity and a sense of community, and broadly based economic opportunities. This means that improving the standard of living is a multi-dimensional challenge rather than one of solely increasing aggregate demand, productivity, or GDP. This book embodies a pluralistic approach and draws on the expertise of a wide array of thinkers. The intended audience is for various courses offered in economics, sociology, political science, public policy programs, and in environmental and ecological studies.
Foreword Robert H. Frank Introduction Richard P.F. Holt and Daphne T. Greenwood Part 1: Recent History and Prospects for the American Standard of Living 1. Improving the Standard of Living: Income, Quality of Life, and Sustainability Daphne T. Greenwood and Richard P.F. Holt 2. Economic Well-Being in the United States: A Historical and Comparative Perspective Ajit Zacharias, Edward N. Wolff, Thomas Masterson, and Selcuk Eren 3. Measuring the Standard of Living: Quality of Life and Income Differences in the United States Thomas Michael Power 4. Achieving a Brighter Future from the Bottom Up: Activist Laissez-Faire Social Policy David Colander Part II: Lagging Incomes and the Middle-Class Dream 5. The Future of Middle-Class Jobs: Macroeconomic Effects and Shrinking Unions Paul J. Kozlowksi and Steven Spirn 6. Low-Paid Workers: The Minimum Wage and Employment in the United States and France David R. Howell, Bert M. Azizoglu, and Anna Okatenko 7. Opportunity and Mobility: The American Dream and the Standard of Living Daphne T. Greenwood and Richard P.F. Holt 8. Reducing Child Poverty in America: The Effects of a Paid Parental Leave Policy Steven Pressman and Robert H. Scott III Part III: Policies to Improve Quality of Life and Sustainability 9. Raising US Living Standards by Controlling Climate Change Robert Pollin 10. Food, the Environment, and a Good Standard of Living Emily Northrop 11. Improving the Standard of Living Through Investments in Intangible Capital John Tomer