By Ana Swanson
If you’re a member of the educated, urban elite, you probably consider inequality a terrible thing and see yourself as someone fighting against it. But in a new book, George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen describes how the forces that have benefited highly skilled and educated people in past decades are the same ones that have held others down.
In “The Complacent Class,” Cowen, who runs the popular blog Marginal Revolution, argues that a new kind of cultural segregation has become the norm in American life, benefiting a select class — and leaving many more people simply stuck. The U.S. population has sorted out not only along political lines, but also by education, race, income, social status and even technological ability. Along the way, the country has become more polarized, less dynamic and less fair.
Cowen argues that the educated urban elite, who are well equipped to compete in today’s economy, have become increasingly isolated from other parts of the country — and so don’t see the urgency with which the country needs reform to help those left behind. While people on the top have little motivation to change, he believes they may be forced to, as others grow increasingly disgruntled.
I spoke with Cowen in December about the book, which was released Tuesday. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
In the book, you discuss how new “matching” technologies are helping to make the world a more enjoyable place — for example, websites and apps that help people find better jobs and more suitable mates. We think of these technologies as a good thing, but you point out they have …read more