Essays On Inequality In America

Chapter three explores the relationship between incarceration and generational inequality.

Using a calibrated OLG model of criminal behavior with race, inheritance and endogenous education, I calculate how much longer prison sentences, and a higher likelihood of capture and conviction contribute to income inequality.

Effects are greatest for men with freshman majors in education, professional and vocational technologies, the humanities, business, and the sciences, and for women in education, the sciences, or undeclared.

Delays are robust to fluctuations in students’ in-school work hours, earnings, and job market conditions.

Chapter two assesses the impact of over-the-counter access to emergency contraception on women’s educational attainment using variation in access produced by state legislation since 1998.

In the last few years, a series of high-profile events, both tragedies (the killings of unarmed African American youth) and vulgarities (racial and ethnic slurs and stereotypes from NBA owners and presidential candidates) have reminded the American public of the reality that racial inequality and racism are far from a thing of the past.

Although only 11 percent of African Americans believe racial equality has been achieved, almost 40 percent believe it will be soon.8 Since the Black-led Freedom movement of the 1950s and 1960s, there has in fact been some progress for African Americans. Poverty among African Americans has declined from nearly 42 percent in 1966 to about 27 percent in 2012.12 Despite gains in educational attainment and declines in the share of African Americans living in poverty, African Americans have gained almost no ground in income disparities.

Whether by household or per capita, African Americans do not earn even 60 percent of what white Americans earn, and this gap has barely moved in more than 40 years.13 And income is only one part of the economic picture.

Results indicate that changes to criminal policy mirroring those of the “tough on crime” legislation of the 1980s and 1990s, including an 18% increase in criminal apprehension and a 68% increase in prison sentence length, have little impact on inequality as measured by the Gini coefficient.

Instead, the model provides evidence that these enhanced enforcement measures deter crime and decrease incarceration rates.

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