Paul Pierson

Paul Pierson is John Gross Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He is co-author, with Jacob Hacker, of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.

Recent Articles

Piketty's Triumph

Three expert takes on Capital in the Twenty-First Century, French economist Thomas Piketty's data-driven magnum opus on inequality.

Courtesy of Fondation Jean Jaurès
In the 1990s, two young French economists then affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, began the first rigorous effort to gather facts on income inequality in developed countries going back decades. In the wake of the 2007 financial crash, fundamental questions about the economy that had long been ignored again garnered attention. Piketty and Saez’s research stood ready with data showing that elites in developed countries had, in recent years, grown far wealthier relative to the general population than most economists had suspected. By the past decade, according to Piketty and Saez, inequality had returned to levels nearing those of the early 20th century. Last fall, Piketty published his magnum opus, Capital in the Twenty-First Century , in France. The book seeks to model the history, recent trends, and back-to-the-19th-century future of capitalism. The American Prospect asked experts and scholars in the field of inequality to...

Piketty’s Triumph

Three expert takes on Capital in the Twenty-First Century, French economist Thomas Piketty's data-driven magnum opus on inequality.

Courtesy of Fondation Jean Jaurès
I n the 1990s, two young French economists then affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, began the first rigorous effort to gather facts on income inequality in developed countries going back decades. In the wake of the 2007 financial crash, fundamental questions about the economy that had long been ignored again garnered attention. Piketty and Saez’s research stood ready with data showing that elites in developed countries had, in recent years, grown far wealthier relative to the general population than most economists had suspected. By the past decade, according to Piketty and Saez, inequality had returned to levels nearing those of the early 20th century. Last fall, Piketty published his magnum opus, Capital in the Twenty-First Century , in France. The book seeks to model the history, recent trends, and back-to-the-19th-century future of capitalism. The American Prospect asked experts and scholars in the field of inequality to...

Powell's Diagnosis—And Ours

Why is the American political system so weakly responsive to the policy preferences of the majority of Americans?

This piece is part of the Prospect' s series on progressives' strategy over the next 40 years. To read the introduction, click here . T he Powell Memo is remembered today as a blueprint for business counter-mobilization. So it’s easy to forget that one of Lewis Powell’s principal goals—and, it seems, achievements—was to wake up business leaders to the nature of the challenges they faced: the hostility in some campus quarters, the strength of foes like Ralph Nader, and, above all, the weakness of corporate political organization. Before he could get business leaders to act on his prescriptions, Powell had to convince them of his diagnosis. A Powell Memo for us likewise has to get the diagnosis right. Today, progressives are having three main conversations—about organization, about messaging, and about policy. Each is crucial. But there’s an even more crucial conversation, and it’s the inverse of the one that Powell sought to start more than 40 years ago. Powell asked why business was...