Around that time, the rates of college graduation began to decrease and overall high school graduation numbers leveled off. For Goldin and Katz, expanding access to higher education could actually help reduce inequality.
“You could wipe out a large fraction of inequality by ramping up the education of individuals who are limited in their ability to access and finish a college education,” said Goldin.
The problem of wealth inequality is more extreme than income inequality since the former builds on the latter, said Katz, and their effects persists across generations. The legacies of the Jim Crow era and racism against Blacks are expressed today in residential segregation, housing discrimination, and discrimination in the labor market.
For Katz, who has been studying housing discrimination and its effects on upward mobility, public policies can be implemented to reduce residential segregation. A study Katz co-authored with Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren, professor of economics, found that when low-income families move to lower-poverty neighborhoods, with help of housing vouchers and assistance, it is “likely to reduce the persistence of poverty across generations.” Chetty and Hendren, along with John Friedman of Brown University, were the co-founding directors of the Equality of Opportunity Project, now expanded and called Opportunity Insights, based at Harvard.
Growing inequality is spoiling the chances to have a better life than the previous generation. Recent numbers show that the top 1 percent has seen their wages grow by 157 percent over the last four decades, while the wages of the bottom 90