Edward Wolff

Edward N. Wolff is a professor of economics at New York University and a senior scholar at the Jerome Levy Economics Institute.

Recent Articles

The Rich Get Richer:

A newcomer to the United States, after reading the newspaper or watching television for a few days, might conclude that every family in America was huddled around their computers, watching their stocks and mutual funds rise and fall. Even the gloomier news reports of recent weeks ("How to Survive the Slump" blared a recent Time magazine cover) take for granted the triumph of a "people's capitalism"--the idea that the rising stock market of the 1990s lifted all ships--and imply that the average American's main concern as the economy lands is waiting out a temporary contraction in his or her technology portfolio. The reality, as any regular American Prospect reader well knows, is quite otherwise: Most American families have seen their level of well-being stagnate over the last quarter-century--and that's even before the current economic slowdown. Between 1973 and 1998, the real hourly wages of the average American worker fell by 9 percent. (This contrasts with the preceding quarter-...

How the Pie is Sliced: America's Growing Concentration of Wealth

When a rising tide lifts only a few boats.

C onservative economic policy has one central idea: just create a bigger pie, and everyone will have a bigger slice. In fact, conservatives predict that if we cut the rich a bigger piece by lowering their tax rates, the resulting growth will enlarge everyone else's slice, too. This was the core idea of Reagan's tax cuts, and it is central to such current conservative goals as lower capital gains taxes. Unfortunately, since the 1980s the great majority of Americans have not been getting bigger slices from a growing pie. As many people have noted, median family income has failed to grow. The picture is even more stark for gains in wealth than for gains in income. New research, based on data from federal surveys, shows that between 1983 and 1989 the top 20 percent of wealth holders received 99 percent of the total gain in marketable wealth, while the bottom 80 percent of the population got only 1 percent. America produced a lot of new wealth in the '80s--indeed, the stock market boomed--...