Lecture 15 - Lecture 15 Inequality by Design Inequality and...

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Lecture 15: Inequality by Design: Inequality and Public Policy Word of the day: mitigate To alleviate or give relief from; to lessen the effects of Inequality by Design Berkeley sociologist and Claude Fisher and his colleagues were concerned that Hernnstein and Murray’s analysis was incomplete and therefore incorrect They redid the statistical analysis and published their findings in Inequality by Design The questions they investigated o Is the extent of economic inequality in American society a natural outcome of economic processes? o (on the other hand) To what extent is it shaped by public policy? How public policy mitigates inequality Social security o Established in 1935 through the social Security act o Provides financial benefits to elderly Americans in order to reduce the economic insecurity that comes with old age o Eligibility for benefits is determined by complex formula involving years in the workforce and age at retirement o More than $600 billion (2008) were paid out to 51 million beneficiaries o Average monthly benefit is $1,1777 in 2011 o Is funded through a payroll of 12.4% on wages (split between employers and employees) up to a max of $106,800 o Is billed as “contributory” but it is actually a transfer program o Has significantly reduced the level of elderly poverty o The more money we spend per capita, the lower the % of elderly below poverty A $1000 increase in annual benefits lead to a 3% reduction in poverty rate Temporary assistance for needy families o Established by Social Security Act in 1935 under the name Aid to Dependent children (ADC) o Congress significantly reworked the law in 1996 and changed name to TANF o Administrated by department of HHS o Provides block grants to states, which use the money to provide cash
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