In Defense of Monogamy!

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OK, not really, but I have a new piece in The Guardian‘s Comment Is Free on polygamy.


  1. I don’t think it is correct that most US income/ wealth from economic growth since 1970 has gone to the elites: 

  2. it’s conventional wisdom which is disputed by various other measures (e.g., income X = buys a much bigger or better basket, etc.). if you want to disagree, it would be best to cite the academic debate instead of random blog post which is admittedly strongly biased. e.g., here’s the first paper in google scholar typing, “income real growth united states,” inequality, income growth, and mobility: the basic facts
    during the 1950s and 1960s, mean wages in the united states grew rapidly, and the dispersion around this growing mean changed very little. starting in the 1970s and continuing into the 1980s and 1990s, these patterns were reversed: mean wages grew slowly, and inequality increased rapidly. 
    these changes in labor markets were reflected in changes in the distribution of family income. the mean of the distribution of family income did increase after 1973, in spite of near constancy of mean real wages, as family members increased the number of hours worked…. 
    follow up comments referring to the economic literature (which i admittedly don’t know well, so i just pass on what i hear in the press about the economic literature) are welcome. my assertion was based on what greg clark said in farewell to alms. if he’s full of shit, that’s all good, but i’d rather not be “corrected” by reference to an anonymous professor’s blog post when i was just repeating what a relatively well known economic historian has stated.

  3. p.s. to be clear, clark specifically asserted that real wage gains after 1970 stopped for those without skills; i.e., those without college educations, from what i recall. this is the majority of the population. this is a weaker claim that what most people think of as “elite,” and that is really what i meant, though my understanding is that even gains in wage for the college educated have arguably been halting. this post-1970s stagnation for unskilled works is a change from the pattern between ~1800-1970 when wage inequality decreased because of massive relative gains for the unskilled.

  4. p.p.s., to follow up commenter, pointing to a charts from an academic paper without textual context DOES NOT COUNT as due diligence :-)