For some time now, agreement has seemed near-universal that there is a growing chasm between those with great wealth in this country and the rest of the population. That recognition has even bridged our otherwise entrenched political divide, with both Republicans and Democrats tackling the problem, especially on the campaign trail. But despite the recent urgency, there are differences.
Some prefer the term opportunity gap, while others focus on income inequality. And agreement on both the causes and the solutions can be elusive. Now, famed sociologist Robert Putnam has thrown his intellectual hat into the ring, exploring these matters in his new book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. We talk with him about this national dilemma and the prospects for solving it.
- Robert Putnam: Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard and author of numerous books, including Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community and Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.
NH Listens, a civic engagement program at the Carsey School has hosted 12 conversations on opportunity gap around the state. A report summarizing residents’ thoughts in those meetings will be available early this summer.
The Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire has done a nationwide, state-level analysis of various indicators of opportunity based on socioeconomic status, a project supported by the NH Charitable Foundation and inspired by Robert Putnam’s book.