Can education reduce income disparities?
Thesis (M.A.L.S.)--Georgetown University, 2011.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. The U.S. has the most unequal income distribution among the developed nations and the income disparities are increasing. They will likely lead to an increasingly polarized political landscape that needs to be addressed as a matter of policy and principle. There are wide disagreements as to what measures could possibly decrease income disparities but education has been widely regarded as a useful tool. The thesis addresses globalization and its effects on the American life and society, factors influencing income disparities, and how education and other policy measures could reduce income inequality. Income inequalities are influenced by various factors, including technological change, globalization, demographics, and social factor. Education is currently the strongest policy instrument in the U.S. to address income disparities because it has wide political support as providing the principal means of upward social mobility and opportunity to all. The past history also shows that education has helped reduce income disparities, or at least slowed down the increases. The current Administration has established a strong education policy that combines actors and measures from both the public and private sectors. The main elements of the education reform are the improvement of the quality of education, accountability and efficiency, higher completion rates in high school and college, and broader access to post secondary education. Education is not, however, sufficient by itself to structurally change income distribution. Other strong policy measures are, however, not politically feasible because the American public and policymakers remain divided on how much government should influence income distribution. This is reflected on their views on the effectiveness and desirability of redistributive policy measures such as progressive taxation, transfers, and other social policy measures. Therefore, the educational efforts are the most important policy measures in the coming years, but not necessarily by their greater impact but by virtue of political feasibility.
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