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托马斯·库利:愈演愈烈的贫富差距摧毁了中产阶级?  

2009-07-03 18:02:38|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Has Rising Inequality Destroyed The Middle Class?

te<Thomas F. Cooleyte<, 06.03.09, 12:01 AM EDT

Let's ignore anecdotes and look at the data. 

不要再道听途说了,还是看看真是的数据吧

pic
Thomas F. Cooley, the Paganelli-Bull professor of economics and Richard R. West dean of the NYU Stern School of Business, writes a weekly column for Forbes. He is a contributor to a new book on the financial crisis entitled Restoring Financial Stability
 
托马斯·库利:纽约大学斯特恩商学院 (NYU-Stern School of Business) Paganelli-Bull 经济学教授兼 Richard R. West 院长 Thomas F. Cooley 是福布斯网站的周报专栏作家。 并在参与关于经济危机的名为“重塑金融稳定”的新书写作。

Everyone is worried about the American middle class. The decline of the American worker, and thus the middle class, is a key trope in economic downturns, amplified by the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler and the loss of so many well-paid jobs in the manufacturing sector. For many commentators, this feels like the last straw. How much longer, they ask, can the U.S. weather the increasing gap between rich and poor without permanent damage to the social fabric?

所有人都在担心美国的中产阶级。美国工人在减少,中产阶级因此在经济低迷期很有代表性,而且这种情形还被通用和克莱斯勒的破产以及在制造业的高薪职位的流失给放大了。

许多评论员认为这无疑是难以忍受的致命一击。他们很疑惑:美国需要多久才能在没有对社会结构造成永久性顽疾的情况下,从加剧的社会贫富鸿沟中幸存下来?

But just how bad is it? One of the main problems in the debate is that opinions are advanced that are not backed by data. Interestingly enough--at least for an economist like me--the data tell a rather different kind of story.

但是现在的情况到底差到什么地步呢?在探讨过程中,最主要的一个问题就是大家的主张都很高端,却没有数据做支撑!很有意思的是——至少对于一个像我这样的经济学家来说,数据在讲述一个完全不同的事实……

Last year, someone sent me a book they thought would interest me. It was a good idea in principle, because the book dealt with labor markets and the plight of workers in the U.S. I looked forward to reading it, but it didn't take long before I threw it against the wall in exasperation. Instead of a data-driven analysis, it was a series of searing anecdotes about workplace injustice, low-paying, difficult jobs, bolstered by "facts" that were either incorrect or interpreted in a crazy way.

去年有人送给我一本自认为我会感兴趣的书。这本书的主旨是很精妙的,因为它在处理劳动力市场和美国工人的困境。我迫不及待地读了它,但是美国就我就愤怒地把它摔到墙上去了。这一系列用“事实”支撑起来的关于岗位歧视,工资收入低,工作难度大的烫手的故事,既不正确,也完全使用疯子的思路在解释。

Clearly the individual costs of job loss, the tremendous difficulties of lives spent in poverty, should not be diminished. But anecdotes can't substitute for clear thinking.

有一点是很清楚的,就是失业后的个人消费,以及陷入贫困后的生活窘境是不应该被低估的。但是故事,不能代表清醒的思维。

One assertion in the book I just mentioned was that labor's share of the economic pie had sunk to its lowest level since 1929, with the companion assertion that corporations and CEOs were seizing a larger share of the economic pie for themselves, leaving labor greatly diminished. This is simply not true. Another assertion, this time true, is that American workers toil more hours per year than their French or German or other European counterparts. The author interprets this as evidence that our workers are being squeezed harder and that work is more brutal and demanding than it need be. That's not necessarily the case. A more orthodox--and to me, persuasive--explanation is that U.S. workers receive stronger incentives to work more hours.

我曾经提到的一个这本书的一个论点就是劳动力在整个经济馅饼中咋还拿到的份数已经讲到了1929年以来的最低点,另一个差不多的论点是公司合伙人和CEO们为自己收敛到巨大的份额,从而导致劳动力份额大幅下降。这个很显然不对的。另一个论点,这次是对的:美国工人相比法国德国以及其他欧洲国家的同行,每年苦干更多的时间。坐着试图以这些为证据说明,我们的工人正在被更加残酷的压榨,,我们的工作远远超出了工作本身需要达到的要求。

这未必是事实!对我来说,一个更加正统的、有说服力的解释就是美国工人之所以工作更长的时间,是因为他们得到了更强有力的激励。

Let's consider in more detail labor's share of the pie. This can be addressed using the National Income and Product Accounts. Despite the many emotional appeals to the contrary, it turns out that labor's share of output has remained remarkably constant at roughly 70% from 1950 through 2008. This calculation includes an estimate of the fraction of proprietors' income that is imputed to be labor income. (Slight variations in how one calculates it might lead to slightly different numbers but will not change the fact that has remained roughly constant for more than 50 years. There is some short-term variation over the business cycle, but no trend--and definitely not a decline. Robert J. Gordon of Northwestern has made similar observations in a number of papers.)

 

我们在仔细地考量一下劳动者在“馅饼”中的份额问题。这是能够在国民收入与生产账户中表述的。出去许多对于方面的的感性诉求的影响,我们发现劳动力占有的份额从1950年到2008年五十年之间很明显的稳定在70%左右。这种计算包括了一小部分企业主的收入,他们的收入也被估算到了劳动者收入。(核算方法三的轻微变动将会导致不同的数字结果,但是不会改变这个已经保持了五十多年的事实。在经济周期里会有一些短期的波动,但是没有趋势明显地表现出下降!西北大学的Robert J. Gordon已经在许多论文中做过类似的观察结果。)

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