Paul Starr

Paul Starr is co-founder and co-editor of the The American Prospect. and professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction and the Bancroft Prize in American history, he is the author of seven books, including most recently Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle over Heath Care Reform (Yale University Press, revised ed. 2013). Click here to read more about Starr.

Recent Articles

Lullaby of Baghdad

Are we winning the Iraq war, or is what little progress we have achieved actually an illusion?

Is reduced violence in Iraq -- reduced, that is, from its peak in 2006--a sign that the United States is finally on the road to victory? Or is U.S. strategy in the war, as Steven Simon argues in the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs , "stoking the three forces that have traditionally threatened the stability of Middle Eastern states: tribalism, warlordism, and sectarianism" and consequently making Iraq ungovernable? In other words, is the Bush administration purchasing short-term stability in Iraq -- and a lulled electorate at home -- at the cost of a deepened and prolonged conflict? There's no doubt that the "surge" in U.S. forces (now being drawn down to 140,000 troops) has bought the administration political relief. News coverage of the fighting has dropped, and congressional Democrats have been stymied in efforts to end the conflict. (I'm writing just before Gen. David Petraeus' congressional testimony.) Perhaps most important, although a majority of the public continues to...


The March issue of The American Prospect carries a special report, " Mobilizing Millennials: Will Their Economic Raw Deal Fuel the Next New Deal? " in which I have an article, " A New Deal of Their Own ." Here I pursue a theme that I have raised in Freedom's Power and in a series of articles (see an earlier post on my website on " The Idea of a Young America Program "). The persistent problems among America's children are well known. What's less widely appreciated is that during the past 35 years these problems have increasingly extended into young adulthood. But not all age groups have seen their fortunes sink; the economic situation of the elderly has improved markedly, thanks in large measure to public policy. I argue: As this contrast suggests, the difficulties facing the young generally -- both children and young adults -- are the result of long-standing limitations in social policy whose effects have been aggravated by recent changes in the economy and the family. The three...


The Democratic Party continues hurtling toward disaster, as now Michigan as well as Florida Democrats have proved unable to agree on plans for a new primary. While Senator Hillary Clinton has supported the proposed do-overs, Senator Barack Obama’s campaign has opposed them--leaving the party with no apparent option for representing either state at the national convention in August. Before today’s failure in Michigan, there was still the possibility of a fair deal for all sides concerned. On Florida, that would have meant acceptance of Sen. Bill Nelson’s proposal to count the results of the January primary, but only to give the delegates half a vote apiece. That compromise would have been consistent with the original Democratic Party penalties for states that advanced the dates of their primaries or caucuses in violation of the party’s schedule. And it would have been the same penalty the Republicans imposed on Florida. No one could then have complained in November that the Democrats...

A New Deal of Their Own

Social policy once helped the young join the middle class.
Today, government aid is mainly for the elderly and the poor.

America does not do well by its young. For years government data and social-science research have demonstrated persistently high levels of poverty and related problems among children. In a UNICEF study last year measuring the well-being of children and adolescents in 21 rich countries, the United States ranked next to last. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, 17 percent of children in 2006 were growing up in families with incomes below the poverty line -- just about the same proportion as in the 1970s. What's less widely appreciated is that the problems afflicting children now extend into young adulthood. For roughly 30 years after World War II, young workers shared in economic growth, but since the 1970s they've lost ground. In 1967, according to research by Andrew Sum and his colleagues at Northeastern University, young men ages 18 to 24 who were employed full-time earned 74 percent as much as men 25 years of age and older, but by 2004, they were making only 52 percent as much...

Bringing the Race to Closure

Here's what the Democrats could do to prevent the race for the nomination from stretching into late summer and turning into an ugly donnybrook in Denver.

Remember when it was obvious that the Democratic Party would choose a presidential nominee early this year because of the front-loaded primary schedule? Like a lot else that was oh-so-obvious about this year's election, things aren't working out that way (not as of the week after Super Tuesday).While John McCain has nearly locked up the Republican nomination, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton may continue battling for weeks, possibly for months, and perhaps all the way to the convention in Denver, intensifying the bitterness and disaffection between the two camps. What's more, the nomination may hinge on procedural votes whose outcome seems unfair to the losing side. Is there anything that can be done to prevent the race from stretching into late summer and turning into an ugly donnybrook in Denver? In fact, if the primaries are not decisive, some steps could be taken to bring the contest to a fair resolution before the convention. The Democratic Party faces two separate issues. The...