EPI book reviews
Enriching Children, Enriching the Nation
The Benefits of Full Employment
The State of Working America, 2006-2007
Talking Past Each Other
Worker Skills and Job Requirements
The Charter School Dust-Up
Bridging the Tax Gap
Rethinking High School Graduation Rates & Trends
Class and Schools
The State of Working America, 2004-2005
The State of Working America, 2002-2003
The State of Working America, 2000-2001
Enriching Children, Enriching the Nation
Public Investment in High-Quality Prekindergarten
By Robert G. Lynch
ISBN: 1-932066-28-4, 6″ x 9″, paper, May 2007, $14.95
Lynch–a professor of economics with specialties in public finance and comparative economics–gives a dollars-and-cents analysis of the financial, budgetary benefits which would be derived from significant investment in high-quality prekindergarten from “raising GDP, improving the skills of the workforce, reducing poverty…strengthening U.S. global competitiveness” and lowering crime rates. …In a policy-wonk, academic sociological style with charts and tables and for example, one appendix titled “Explanation of the methodology for estimating the budget, earnings and crime effects of investments in prekindergarten,” Lynch succinctly, yet comprehensively puts forth the financially-based argument for the socially-desirable enterprise of good prekindergarten schooling for all American children.
–Midwest Book Review, Reviewer’s Bookwatch, September 2007 issue
Expert economists Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker present The Benefits of Full Employment: When Markets Work for People, a thoughtful look at the prosperity that came with the 1990s employment boom. That era revealed that full employment and stable prices could successfully coexist; incomes rose while poverty, welfare rolls, and crime rates fell. Though the full employment of the 1990s ended when the business cycle subsided, The Benefits of Full Employment persuasively argues that the advantages of full employment make it a condition worth striving to attain permanently through national policy. First published in 2003, The Benefits of Full Employment remains as insightful and well-reasoned today as it was four years ago.
–Midwest Book Review, Library Bookwatch, The Economics Shelf, August 2007 issue
The Crucial Role of Social Security
By Christian Weller and Edward N. Wolff
ISBN: 1-932066-20-9, paper, May 2005, $11.50
Written by Christian Weller (Senior Economist, Center for American Progress) and Edward N. Wolff (professor of economics, New York University), Retirement Income: The Crucial Role of Social Security is the follow-up to the 2002 study “Retirement Insecurity: The Income Shortfalls Awaiting the Soon-to-Retire”. Focusing especially upon the role of Social Security, particularly in the wake of the Bush Administration’s 2005 proposals to dismantle the traditional Social Security program, Retirement Income: The Crucial Role of Social Security explores the inequalities of retirement income in the United States, and how women and minorities especially are burdened with the struggle to replace their pre-retirement income. Grounded soundly in facts and statistics, and listing at length the many ways that Social Security has proven superior to private retirement benefits, Retirement Income: The Crucial Role of Social Security is a “must-read” for anyone concerned about the current status and future direction of America’s Social Security program.
–Midwest Book Review, Wisconsin Bookwatch, The Economics Shelf, August 2007 issue
Regional Studies, Vol. 41.4, pp. 553, June 2007. This review is available on StateofWorkingAmerica.org.
Talking Past Each Other
What Everyday Americans Really Think (and Elites Don’t Get) About the Economy
by David Kusnet, Lawrence Mishel, and Ruy Teixeira
ISBN: 978-1-93-206627-6, 56 pages, 6″ x 9″,paper, October 2006, $9.95
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The Economic Policy Institute publishes some excellent studies and Talking Past Each Other: What Everyday Americans Really Think (and Elites Don’t Get) About the Economy., ($9.95, softcover) is one of them. In a series of focus groups in 2005 and 2006, EPI’s team of David Kusnet, Lawrence Mishel, and Ruy Teixeira, produced a brief, readable study that reveals how profoundly ambivalent Americans are about the economy and how they differ in their perceptions from influential elites when they discuss it. Since we are all at the mercy of those who make and shape economic policy, this book provides some very interesting revelations that would encourage needed changes in our economic, social, and political policies.
— Bookviews.com, April 2007 issue
…This study reveals a profound ambivalence about the economy in general, and a widening gap between the ways that everyday Americans and the influential elites talk about the economy in particular. Strongly recommended reading by professionals and non-specialist general readers alike, “Talking Past Each Other” also address this perception gap between the elites and the public in terms of how to bridge these differences and allow for changing economic, social, and political conditions. Of special note is the section offering twelve specific and applicable suggestions for elites to ‘speak American’ when presenting and discussing economic issues to the general public.
— Midwest Book Review, Wisconsin Bookwatch, April 2007 issue
Is There a Mismatch?
B y Michael J. Handel
ISBN: 1-932066-16-0, 94 pages, 6″ x 9″, paper, October 2005, $12.50
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This book challenges the widespread belief that the skills and education of US workers are not adequate to meet employer needs in our modern economy. It cites educators who testified before Congress about low test scores — but in the context of asking for more money for education. It also accepts the thesis that employer skill demands are increasing substantially. The author reviews the research on the match or mismatch of worker skills and employer needs and concludes the problem is not nearly as intense as many economists attest. To take one example, there is no shortage of workers with acceptable computer skills. By offering higher wages, employers could solve much of their “worker skills” problem. The book combines a good mix of reports on research and surveys along with analysis, and readers should commend the fact that it states its case in less than 100 pages.”
–Career Opportunities News. November/December 2006, p. 11
The Charter School Dust-Up
Examining the Evidence on Enrollment and Achievement
By Martin Carnoy, Rebecca Jacobsen, Lawrence Mishel, and Richard Rothstein
ISBN: 0-8077-4615-0, 192 pages, 6″ x 9″, paper, March 2005, $16.95
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“Published jointly by the Economic Policy Institute and a university press, The Charter School Dust-Up presents a scholarly analysis of the NAEP data on which the AFT based its report and analyzes the counterarguments used by charter school advocates. What really makes this short book interesting, however, is the blow-by-blow account of the counterattack by charter school interest groups and government officials. If you want to add spice to a dull course on educational policy or research, Dust-Up is more than you could ask for.”
“It would be an excellent supplemental text for an education or public policy course with a focus on research for at least two reasons. First, most of the book is a thorough comparison of conflicting studies, juxtaposing conflicting data and conflicting conclusions. Second, this book is colorful and interesting in chronicling the inconsistencies in the attack on the AFT report and the hypocrisy of prominent charter school advocates.”
–Journal of Education Finance, 32:1 Summer 2006, pp.105-109. F. Howard Nelson.
Deftly compiled and edited by Max B. Sawicky, Bridging the Tax Gap: Addressing the Crisis in Federal Tax Administration is an extensive study drawn from the collective works of top experts in tax enforcement about the direct effects and issues arising from governmental tax policy. Offering readers a complete and thorough understanding of the crisis facing federal tax administration and suggesting a practical approach to solving the issues that have arisen, Bridging the Tax Gap includes conceptual contribution from such people as the former IRS Commissioners Sheldon Cohen and Donald Alexander. Bridging the Tax Gap is very strongly recommended for students of Economics seeking a greater understanding of the inherent problems of taxation and an analysis of their proper and productive solutions.
— Midwest Book Review. Oliver Norton.
“Written by Economic Policy Institute (a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank) members Lawrence Mishel and Joydeep Roy, Rethinking High School Graduation Rates & Trends is a serious-minded re-examination of modern statistical data. In an increasingly knowledge-driven and globalized economy, people without a high school diploma are at a disadvantage – but modern scholars disagree upon the precise rate of graduation in U.S. high schools. Rethinking High School Graduation Rates & Trends scrutinizes current sources of statistical data on high school completion and dropout rates, taking into account the findings of the Census Bureau Household Survey, historical trends, the General Education Development (GED) issue and more to draw mixed conclusions. On the one hand, graduation rates are unquestionably in need of improvement; on the other, they are higher than presupposed, and getting better. An extensively researched guide devoted to clearly defining the extent of the troubling national problem of high school dropout rates, without overstating its volume or understating its importance.”
–Midwest Book Review. Michael Dunford. http://www.midwestbookreview.com/mbw/nov_06.htm#dunford
“This book deserves to be carefully and thoughtfully read by all who shape policy for America’s public schools. It should provoke thoughtful reflection and discussion at the federal, state, and municipal level. It belongs on the ‘must read’ list of every politician and every educator.”
—Class and Schools: Using social, economic, and educational reform to cloase the achievement gap. Michael Williamson. TCRecord.org, http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=11404
“Rothstein has written a lucid, penetrating volume on how to dismantle the achievement gap in US education. Indeed, he has gone a long way toward shattering the egregious myth that schools alone can create and sustain educational reform. Focusing on social-class determinants, Rothstein analyzes income inequalities, cultural influences, and inadequate housing and health care. Eschewing simplistic claims for high-stakes testing, higher standards, and tougher accountability, he criticizes neoconservative arguments that implicitly seek to scapegoat public schools and usher in their eventual demise. Rothstein boldly challenges politicians and policy makers to face wider social and economic factors in head-on fashion. Rather than isolating schools and blaming teachers, his policy analysis and recommendations actually tackle the deep-seated social conditions that the media, political leaders, and public at large seldom seem to acknowledge. A must read for all who truly care about clarifying and solving the public problems in American life. Summing Up: Essential. All levels.”–Choice, September 2005 Vol. 43, No. 01. J.L. DeVitis.
“Rothstein says, public policy must go beyond school reform and address the social and economic conditions that lie behind the poor academic performance of lower-class children. (Yes, Rothstein dares to recognize a stratified class system in America’s “classless” society.)”
—Annual Reading List: If you didn’t read any other education books this year, at least read these. Rebecca Jones. American School Board Journal. January 2005, p.21.
“Rice’s work is particularly important right now as policy makers are being influenced to change state certification and redefine requirements for teacher qualifications.”
—A cue we ought to take. David G. Imig. President’s Briefing, AACTE Briefs, October 6, 2003, p.2
“The State of Working America is a focused, richly detailed examination of what the numbers tell us about the American workplace today… This well-written, soundly argued, and important reference book belongs in all libraries.”
—Ellen D. Gilbert, Library Journal, February 1, 2005
“Overall, the authors join the chorus that sings the praises of the 1990s boom while lamenting the current weak recovery, and they provide ample statistical evidence to support their assertions and give journalists, professors and lobbyists plenty of ammunition.”
—Publishers Weekly, December 22, 2004
“The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) performs a significant service to both research-oriented, analytic scholars and students of economics, regional planning, geography and other similar disciplines. For political scientists this is an engaging foundation from which to develop policy statements and programmes dealing with working families across the country. This volume, consistent with EPI’s values and scholastic excellence, is a well-developed document describing, explaining, and giving the significance of our nation’s recent economy and its connection to working families.”
—Ralph K. Allen Jr., Regional Studies, Vol. 41.4, pp. 553–557, June 2007
“The biennial volumes produced since 1988 by the independent, but left leaning, Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington, D.C. provide us with impressive and exhaustive accounts that remain unequalled in their attention to detail and trenchant, wide-ranging analysis. The latest tome, published earlier this year, does not disappoint. As always, it provides human resource managers and employment agencies, public policy makers and trade union leaders with a wealth of information on all aspects of life in the U.S. labor market. From wage growth and labor productivity to poverty and wealth distribution, the book lays out a wide range of statistical data, mainly derived from official government sources, that enables us to gain a surer grasp of what has been going on in the world of paid work.”
—The State of Working America 2002/2003: A Review Commentary. Robert Taylor, Perspectives on Work, IRRA magazine, Vol.7, Issue 1, p.46.
“This book makes for an extremely interesting, refreshing and compelling read. It brings to the fore critical topics such as income distribution and poverty, topics which are too often excluded from contemporary macro-economic texts, discussions and debate.”
—The State of Working America, 2000/2001 Book Review. Alison Preston, Curtin University of Technology, Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol.43, December 2001, p. 496