Noted for Your Nighttime Procrastination for July 23, 2014
Nighttime Must-Read: Eric Chemi and Ariana Giorgi: For CEOs, Correlation Between Pay and Stock Performance Is Pretty Random - Businessweek

Equitable Growth: Additional Dimensions of Inequality: Wednesday Focus for July 23, 2014

Live Long And Prosper NYTimes comOver at Equitable Growth: Lawrence Summers: Advantages the Rich Have That Money Cannot Buy: "The primary reason for concern about inequality is that lower- and middle-income workers have too little...

...not that the rich have too much... the criterion should be... [the] impact... on the middle class and the poor.... Important aspects of inequality are unlikely to be transformed just by limited income redistribution. Consider... health and... opportunity for children. Barry Bosworth and his colleagues... [the] cohort[s]... born in 1920 and... 1940.... The richest men gained roughly six years in life expectancy... the lowest... two years... lifestyle and variations in diet and stress [rather] than the ability to afford medical care.... READ MOAR

Over the past two generations... the college enrollment rate for children from the lowest quarter... has increased from 6% to 8%, the... highest quarter... from 40% to 73%.... The average affluent child now receives 6,000 hours of extracurricular education... read to, taken to a museum, coached in a sport... other... stimulus... more than the average poor child.... It would be a tragedy if this new focus on inequality and on great fortunes diverted attention from the most fundamental tasks... supporting the health and education of all its citizens...

Members of America's relatively-rich upper-middle class are, says Larry Summers, different from members of America's native-born working class in more then their ability to earn high incomes in the marketplace and so gain the resources to spend in order to achieve an upper middle-class standard of living. Diet, stress, smoking, exercise, and a host of other lifestyle factors play a bigger role then does income in giving the upper-middle class longer life expectancy than the native-born working class. And within-the-family investment in children's experiences and capabilities plays an important role in preparing the next generation to navigate the social and educational obstacle course to productive adulthood.

That reducing income and wealth inequalities will not proportionately reduce all inequalities is not, of course, an argument to eschew smart policies to reduce income and wealth inequalities. It is, however, an argument to do more: to try to act on the health and lifestyle and family structure margins as well as on the after-tax income margin and on the wealth-accumulation margin.

But how?

Naomi Cahn and June Carbone have long argued that the successes come from evolving sociological institutions that cope with the consequences of the coming of reliable birth control and the shrinkage in the average number of pregnancies from eight to two. They see as successful:

a Blue Family Paradigm [that] emphasizes the importance of women's as well as men's workforce participation, egalitarian gender roles, and the delay of family formation until both parents are emotionally and financially ready...

And they contrast it with:

a Red Family Paradigm--associated with the Bible Belt, the mountain west, and rural America--[that] rejects these new family norms, viewing the change in moral and sexual values as a crisis. In this world, the prospect of teen childbirth is the necessary deterrent to premarital sex, marriage is a sacred undertaking between a man and a woman, and divorce is society's greatest moral challenge.

Yet, increasingly, the RFP is unsustainable, both because men without college degrees can no longer fulfill the requirements of their RFP social-gender role, and because most women do not wish to:

The stable, blue collar jobs that have historically supported young families, and early marriage and childbearing derail the education needed to prosper. The result is that the areas of the country most committed to traditional values have the highest divorce and teen pregnancy rates, fueling greater calls to reinstill traditional values...

And here things become truly dicey: calling for a revolution in culture and an abandonment of values is rarely an easy solution to problems of inequality.