In Princeton University Press’s first EBook original, Brink Lindsey demands an investment in “human capital” to stop the growing divide between the haves and have-nots
What explains the growing divide between the wealthy and everybody else? Politicians, pundits, scholars, journalists, economists and many others have tried to solve this critical question that would create a more equal society. In Princeton University Press’s first Ebook original HUMAN CAPITALISM: How Economic Growth Has Made Us Smarter—and More Unequal (Publication Date: August 8, 2012; Ebook $4.99), author and Kauffman Foundation scholar Brink Lindsey argues that the gap between elites and the rest of us can best be explained by the ever-growing complexity of modern economies and the barriers to the acquisition of the skills—“Human Capital”— necessary to not only survive but thrive in a new economic landscape.
The complexity of today’s economy is not only making these elites richer—it is also making them smarter. As the economy makes ever-greater demands on their minds, the successful are making ever-greater investments in education and other ways of increasing their children’s human capital, expanding their cognitive skills and leading them to still higher levels of success. But unfortunately, even as the rich are securely riding this virtuous cycle, the poor are trapped in a vicious one, as a pattern of family breakdown, unemployment, and dysfunction, leads to a further erosion of knowledge and skills.
Lindsey shows how high skill level jobs are rewarded, while mid-level jobs are outsourced, further widening the gap. Simply retraining workers or teaching skills isn’t working because it’s not removing the cultural divisions and polarization that permeates the economy; those cultural factors are impeding the success of targeted programs that he espouses. Fueling the
polarization is the resentment of those on the lower end who don’t want to hear that the world has changed and that they need better jobs.
Lindsey’s solutions? To redeem the promise of human capitalism, it is necessary to restore the connection between rising complexity and rising human capital cross the socioeconomic spectrum.
o Maintain growth through policies that encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
o Reform K-12 education by unleashing competition.
o Step up experiments with early childhood interventions that can compensate for disadvantaged environments.
o Combat social exclusion of low-skilled adults through low-wage job subsidies, changes in disability insurance, and penal reform to reduce mass incarceration.
o Improve higher education by limiting tuition subsidies.
o Reform land use regulation and occupational licensing to facilitate upward mobility.
In this brief, clear, and forthright eBook original, Lindsey shows how economic growth is creating unprecedented levels of human capital—and suggests how the huge benefits of this development can be spread beyond those who are already enjoying its rewards.
Coming in Spring 2013, Princeton University Press will also be publishing an expanded hardcover edition of the book.