Date & time

Apr 10, 2014, 4:00-5:30 pm EDT


Rackham Auditorium

Free and open to the public. Reception to follow.

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About the topic:

This talk will investigate the problem of rising economic inequality in the United States and the various options for addressing it. The unique history of the U.S. has meant that the U.S. political discussion has historically been unconcerned with income inequality; however, rising inequality during the past three decades is attracting increased attention and concern. Growing economic inequality is also closely correlated with rising inequality in a variety of other social domains. This includes evidence of growing differences by economic status in education, housing, health, and marital/fertility choices. Many of the major causes of this rising inequality are not easily addressed in any direct way. In fact, some of these causes have produced other substantial benefits. Within the political economy of the U.S., there are only a limited number of areas where inequality can be addressed in ways that might garner widespread support, including efforts aimed at greater opportunity for low-income families in education, health care, and (perhaps) political participation. Other approaches, particularly those focused on changes in taxation or in job opportunities, are less politically feasible.

From the speaker's bio:

Rebecca M. Blank became chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in July 2013. Blank's experience blends a knowledge of economics with a history of leading through innovation, and a background as an educator and researcher. Leading Wisconsin's flagship university represents a return to academia for Blank. From 2009 to 2013, she served in top positions at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She started as under secretary for economic affairs, and then was named deputy secretary and acting secretary of the agency, managing nearly 45,000 employees and a $10 billion budget. During her time at the agency, Blank not only led a large and complex organization, but also worked to promote economic development with an emphasis on connecting research and innovation with job creation and economic growth. Blank previously served as dean and professor of public policy and economics in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan from 1999 to 2008. In her role as dean, she launched such innovations as interdisciplinary graduate programs and an undergraduate public policy major. Before joining the Department of Commerce, she was a fellow at the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy research think tank in Washington, D.C. Earlier in her career, she was a member of the faculty at Northwestern University and Princeton University, as well as an assistant visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She also spent two years, from 1997 to 1999, as a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers. Blank was born in Missouri and later moved to Minnesota. She earned an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Minnesota, and a doctoral degree in economics from MIT. She is married to Hanns Kuttner, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank. They have one daughter.

About the event:

Rebecca Blank will deliver the Citi Foundation Policy Talks @ the Ford School keynote of the two-day Poverty, Policy, and People: 25 Years of Research and Training at the University of Michigan. The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy will host this conference as one of the highlights of the school's year-long centennial celebrations. The conference is organized by Maria Cancian and Mary Pattillo, will celebrate and explore the contributions to scholarship and professional development of the University of Michigan's Research and Training Program on Poverty and Public Policy, directed for a quarter of a century by Professor Sheldon Danziger. Danziger began his tenure as President of the Russell Sage Foundation in August 2013.