Last week we reviewed the work of Thomas Piketty, the French economist whose surprise blockbuster, Capital in the 21st Century, charts a growing inequality, especially in the United States. According to Piketty, this inequality is caused mostly by the mega-salaries paid to CEOs and financial moguls and by the concentration of wealth and capital in the upper 1 percent.
But inequality has two engines—not only growing wealth at the top but falling wealth everywhere else, and the bulging gap between them. Piketty argued that the rich are getting richer, but he didn’t have much to say about the rest, except by inference, which we’ll discuss later in this blog.
Some new studies have tackled this problem of the left-behinds. Much of what they have to say will ring true for Midwesterners and other Americans, especially young people seeking a toehold in the new economy.