Morals and income

Via Brad DeLong comes two posts with observations that add to the discussion on our observations of the economic conditions driven by human nature:

bradfordFigure 1

Paul Krugman points us to this notion:

Should-Read: Paul Krugman (2015): WHEN VALUES DISAPPEAR: “Back in the 60s and 70s… there was much talk about the disintegration of… African-American values…

…and how that was the root cause of America’s poverty…. The social dysfunction was clearly real. But was it cause or effect? William Julius Wilson, in When Work Disappears, famously argued that it was a symptom: good jobs in inner cities, where African-American men could take them, went away, and the cultural changes followed. So, how could you test that hypothesis? Well, here’s an experiment: change the structure of the economy in such a way that a large class of white men—say, white men without a college degree—similarly lose access to good jobs. If Wilson was right, we’d expect to see a sharp decline in stable marriages, a rise in unwed births, growing drug use, and other forms of social disruption. And that is, in fact, exactly what happened: William Julius Wilson was right.

Which makes it remarkable to see people look at that very evidence and say that it shows that the real problem isn’t money, it’s values…

This does not contradict what Mike points to in the post on self control, but does complicate the picture.