Fighting Poverty in the US and Europe : A World of Difference: A World of Difference

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Oxford University Press, UK, Mar 25, 2004 - Political Science - 264 pages
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In this this timely study of the different approaches of America and Europe to the problems of domestic inequality and poverty, the authors describe just how different the two continents are in the level of State engagement in the redistribution of income. They discuss various possible economic and sociological explanations for the difference, including different attitudes to the poor, notions of social responsibility, and attitudes to race. - ;As events highlight deep divisions in attitudes between America and Europe, this is a very timely study of different approaches to the problems of domestic inequality and poverty. Based on careful and systematic analysis of national data, the authors describe just how much the two continents differ in their level of State engagement in the redistribution of income. Discussing various possible economic explanations for the difference, they cover different levels of pre-tax income, openness, and social mobility; they survey politico-historical differences such as the varying physical size of nations, their electoral and legal systems, and the character of their political parties, as well as their experiences of war; and they examine sociological explanations, which include different attitudes to the poor and notions of social responsibility. Most importantly, they address attitudes to race, calculating that attitudes to race explain half the observed difference in levels of public redistribution of income. - ;... remarkable book ... Mr Alesina and Mr Glaeser, both Harvard economists, are doing what the best in their profession do well these days: seeking to explain society not merely with conventional economic tools but with analysis of institutions, geography and social behaviour. - The Economist;In what ways, and why, are the United States and Europe so far apart in social policy? Alesina and Glaeser give us as definitive an answer to this fundamental question as we shall ever see. - George A. Akerlof, Nobel Prize Laureate

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3.5 stars. Clear arguments, plenty of supporting evidence, and an interesting thesis. The historical and political arguments are a bit hard to take seriously, since they are outside of the authors ... Read full review

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About the author (2004)

Alberto Alesina is Nathaniel Ropes Professor of Political Economy and currently Chairman of the Department of Economics at Harvard University, and has been Visiting Professor at IGIER-Bocconi and MIT. He is a Research Associate for the National Bureau of Economic Research and for the Centerfor Economic Policy Research. He is coeditor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, and in addition to his many books and scientific papers he has published columns in the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal Europe, Le Monde, Il Sole 24 Ore, Corriere della Sera, La Stampa, Frankfurter Zeitung,Handelsblatt, and many other newspapers world wide. Edward Glaeser is a Professor of Economics at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1992. He teaches urban and social economics and microeconomic theory, and has published dozens of papers on cities, economic growth, and law and economics.He is a Research Associate for the National Bureau of Economic Research, and has also been a consultant for numerous international institutions.

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