Inequality at Work: Contemporary Problems and Policy Solutions





Work is at the core of daily life for most American adults. But the experience of work, of having a good job or a bad job, is starkly unequal and by many accounts work has become more precarious and more polarized over the past several decades. We begin with a broad overview of shifts in American society and the economy that are both backdrop and cause of these changes in work - the transformation of the American labor market by the forces of financialization and de-unionization, changes in American families in terms of family structure, women’s labor force participation, and care giving obligations, and retrenchment in the welfare state. We then define a set of contemporary problems at work, including insufficient and unequal wages, unstable and unpredictable work schedules, a lack of paid sick and paid family and medical leave, and barriers to hiring for the formerly incarcerated. For each, we explore the scope of the problem and then policy solutions, with a focus on the “new federalism” of labor regulation at the state and local level. We end by taking up the challenge of effective labor regulation and by grappling with the likely scope and severity of the challenges posed by new technologies to the future of work in the United States including new surveillance technology and the deployment of automation and AI at work.


Additional Information:

Faculty: Daniel Schneider

School: Harvard Kennedy School
Semester: Full Spring Term
Time: 9:00AM - 10:15AM Tuesday

SUP 325