Barry Bluestone

Barry Bluestone is the Stearns Trustee Professor of Political Economy and Director of the Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University.

Recent Articles

Why We Can Grow Faster

F rom the early-nineteenth-century introduction of steam power through the dawning of the age of the microchip in the post-World War II era, real economic growth in America averaged 3.8 percent per year. That meant economic output doubled roughly every 19 years. Then after the 1970s, growth collapsed. During the 1980s, growth averaged just 2.7 percent per year and since 1989 only about 2 percent. At that rate, it will take nearly 36 years for gross domestic product (GDP) to double again. Despite this performance at well below historical trend rates, many mainstream economists and the journalists who follow them have concluded that the new lower growth rate is inevitable and more or less permanent. Economist Paul Krugman suggests that we now live in an "age of diminished expectations" and we had better get used to it. The Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) forecasts 2.3 percent growth through 2002. Generally, both the Federal Reserve Board and the Congressional Budget Office agree with...

The Inequality Express

While the trend toward greater inequality is no longer in doubt, recent work in the social sciences suggests a number of possible explanations. We can now begin to sort them out.

WORKS DISCUSSED IN THIS ESSAY Mickey Kaus, The End of Equality , BasicBooks, 1992 Paul R. Krugman and Robert Z. Lawrence, "Trade, Jobs and Wages" Scientific American ,April 1994 Edward E. Leamer,"Wage Effects of the U.S.-Mexico Free Trade Agreement," in Peter M. Garber, ed., The Mexico-U.S. Free Trade Agreement . MIT Press, 1993. Frank Levy and Richard Murnane,"U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature , September 1992 Lawrence R. Mishel and Jared Bernstein, The State of Working America . Economic Policy Institute, 1993. Lawrence R. Mishel and Jared Bernstein, "Is The Technology Black Box Empty? An Empirical Examination of the Impact of Technology on Wage Inequality and the Employment Structure," Economic Policy Insitiute, April 1994. Michael D. Young, The Rise of the Meritocracy 1870-2033 , Thames and Hudson, 1958. I n his 1958 book, The Rise of the Meritocracy, 1870-2033 , British sociologist...

Generational Alliance: Social Security as a Bank for Education and Training

The solvency of Social Security ultimately depends on economic prosperity, and economic prosperity on productivity and education. College costs, however, are becoming prohibitive, and technical training is weak. Investing part of the Social Security surpluses in a better trained workforce could strengthen economic growth, equitable access to education, and links between the generations.

Generational Alliance: Social Security as a Bank for Education and Training by Barry Bluestone, Alan Clayton-Matthews, John Havens, and Howard Young Criticism of public programs in recent years has increasingly taken on the tone of a generational conflict. Critics point to the high cost of Social Security pensions, Medicare, and nursing homes and raise the specter of a feud between the generations, as if the old were living riotously off the young and the middle-aged. Of course, the elderly are not really a separate special interest, since the rest of us hope to live long enough to become equally special. But the effort to frame social policy as an issue of "generational equity" has touched a raw nerve. Americans who are retired, or approaching retirement, are concerned about the commitment to Social Security, and many people of working age worry that they are paying higher taxes into a system that neither gives them any apparent current benefit nor provides them with a secure future...