Poverty Institute Hosts Talks on Globalization’s Impact on Midwest, Economic Inequalities

UW-Madison news release

CONTACT: Stacy Forster, (608) 262-0930, forster2@wisc.edu

April 29, 2010–The Institute for Research on Poverty will welcome two important figures to the University of Wisconsin–Madison in May to present seminars on economic issues that affect everyone but which hit the poor especially hard.

On May 4, scholar, journalist and author Richard Longworth will describe how globalization has gutted Midwestern industries and the way of life and follow up with his strategy for recovery. Later in the month, economist Richard Blundell will examine how changes in income inequality affect changes in consumption and what this tells us about the transmission of inequality.

Longworth, senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, former Chicago Tribune correspondent and author of “Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism,” will discuss how his arguments would affect the poor on May 4 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Pyle Center’s Alumni Lounge, 702 Langdon St.

Longworth’s book has received both praise and criticism. Publishers Weekly said, “the harshest element of the book is Longworth’s own pitiless ideology of globalism. In his telling, Midwesterners are sluggish, unskilled, risk-averse mediocrities, clinging to obsolete industrial-age dreams of job security, allergic to change, indifferent to education, and totally unfit for the global age.” The Wall Street Journal calls the book “passionate, probing and painfully honest.”

Longworth’s respondent, Donald Nichols, is professor emeritus of public affairs and economics at UW-Madison and longtime modeler of the Wisconsin economy. Nichols served as director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs from 2002 to 2006. He is an award-winning teacher and has played a prominent role in public affairs, both nationally and in Wisconsin.

Longworth’s lecture and Nichols’ response are part of the Institute for Research on Poverty’s New Perspectives in Social Policy series, which then-IRP director Maria Cancian established in 2006 to reach beyond well-explored fields of poverty research and challenge accepted paradigms.

On May 13, Richard Blundell, professor of economics at University College London and research director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, will examine “From Income to Consumption: Understanding the Transmission of Inequality” from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Fluno Center’s Howard Auditorium, 601 University Ave.

In his talk, Blundell will explore the many dimensions of inequality, in wages, income and consumption, and examine the link between the various types of inequality and how they are mediated by “insurance” mechanisms such as adjustments to family labor supply or reliance on credit.

The Blundell lecture is part of the Institute for Research on Poverty’s Robert J. Lampman Memorial Lecture series, which was established in honor of Robert Lampman, a professor of economics at UW–Madison for more than 30 years and founding director and guiding spirit of the institute. The lecture, featuring eminent poverty scholars, is intended to address topics to which Lampman devoted his intellectual career: poverty and the distribution of income and wealth.