Friday, July 5, 2019

US Multinationals Expand their Foreign-based Research and Development [feedly]

US Multinationals Expand their Foreign-based Research and Development
http://conversableeconomist.blogspot.com/2019/07/us-multinationals-expand-their-foreign.html

"For decades, US multinational corporations (MNCs) conducted nearly all their research and development (R&D) within the United States. Their focus on R&D at home helped establish the United States as the unrivaled leader of innovation and technology advances in the world economy. Since the late 1990s, however, the amount of R&D conducted overseas by US MNCs has grown nearly fourfold and its geographic distribution has expanded from a few advanced industrial countries (such as Germany, Japan, and Canada) to many parts of the developing world ..."

Lee G. Branstetter, Britta Glennon, andJ. Bradford Jensen discuss this shift in "The Rise of Global Innovation by US Multinationals Poses Risks and Opportunities" (June 2019, Peterson Institute for International Economics,  Policy Brief 19-9).

Here's the quadrupling in foreign-based R&D by US multinationals in the last couple of decades:
Another measure looks at what share of the patents files by US multinationals are based on cross-border collaboration. It used to be less than 2%; it's now more than 10%--and rising. 
It used to be that almost all the foreign R&D of US multinationals was in five high-income countries Germany, the UK, Japan, Canada, and France.Now, less than half is in those five countries.
The shift here shouldn't be exaggerated. "While US MNCs' foreign R&D expenditures have increased dramatically, they still conducted about 83 percent of their R&D in the United States in 2015 (down from 92 percent in 1989)."

But the shift is still a real one. Of course, it's driven in part by the fact that US multinationals are building supply chains across borders and selling output in other countries. Emerging market have been growing faster than the US economy in recent decades, and with some stops and starts, will probably continue this pattern of faster "catch-up" growth in the next few decades. Another factor is that an interconnected world economy, research is more likely to cross borders than research in older industries.

Your reaction to US multinationals expanding their overseas R&D efforts may be shaped by whether you are a half-empty or a half-full kind of person. US multinationals accounted for 57% of total US R&D spending in 2015. 

The half-empty concern would be that when US companies shift their R&D overseas, there is a danger of losing US-based technological leadership, with potentially negative consequences for US workers and the US economy. There is a legitimate concern that technology developed outside the US may offer less benefit to the US economy, and may be harder to protect with intellectual property rules.

The half-full response is that centers of technological excellence are developing all around the world, with or without participation by US firms. If US firms wish to stay at the technological cutting edge, they need to  engaged with the researchers and expertise all around the world. not to be separated from it. Also, if US multinationals by basing some of the R&D in other countries, US multinationals are building connections to supply chains and to consumers in those markets. 

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How to Collect Your 1st $250 in The Next 24 Hours

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Mobility and the Desire for Sovereignity in Europe [feedly]

very interesting comparisons w/r/t attitudes on both globalization and immigration -- not quite the same thing.


Mobility and the Desire for Sovereignity in Europe
https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019/07/mobility-and-the-desire-for-sovereignity-in-europe.html

Mobility and the Desire for Sovereignity in Europe

Posted on July 3, 2019 by 

By Gianmarco Ottaviano, Professor of Economics, Bocconi University. Originally published at VoxEU

Economic geography strikes back. After a couple of decades of easy talk about the 'death of distance' in the age of globalisation, the promise of a world of rising living standards for all is increasingly challenged by the resilience of regional disparities within countries. As long as many people and firms are not geographically mobile – and those who are tend to be the most skilled and productive – easier distant interactions can actually strengthen rather than weaken agglomeration economies. Recent electoral trends in Europe can be understood to a surprisingly large extent from this angle.

Econometric analysis reveals that the Leave vote in the British referendum on EU membership can be explained to a remarkable extent as a vote against globalisation much more than immigration, in particular against the perceived unfair distribution of the associated costs and benefits (Colantone and Stanig 2018a). In Ottaviano (2019) I discuss how Brexit and other recent electoral trends in Europe can be understood through the lenses of the lack of regional convergence.

The vote for Brexit was a protest vote by those who think they have experienced only the negative effects of globalisation: foreign competition, factory closures, persistent unemployment, stagnating purchasing power, deteriorating infrastructures and public services, rising social exclusion, brain drain, dwindling local tradition and identity, and growing uncertainty about the future. It is revealing that the Leave vote gathered more support among people who feel they have limited outside options: low-skill workers, as they are less employable both locally and elsewhere, and older people, as time is not on their side in the search for alternatives.

Even more revealing is that such a vote has a relevant 'sociotropic' dimension: people resent negative outcomes not only when individually hit but also when their local community is harmed. In this respect, the Leave vote was a request for 'protection' by those who think that others (i.e. the so-called elites in London and Brussels) have hijacked the right to make decisions in the common interest, which on paper should be good for everybody but ends up being good only for those who make the decisions. From this lack of redistribution of the gains and losses from globalisation rises the demand for protection that explains a large part of recent electoral outcomes in the UK and the rest of Europe (Colantone and Stanig 2018a).

European Integration and New Economic Geography (at Last)

Brexit will likely have a cost – sizable for the UK and more limited for the other member countries except Ireland (Dhingra et al. 2017). The reason is that the Single Market is beneficial to the average citizen of each member state. This was one of the reasons behind its creation. The European project of integration was born from the post-war belief that, as peace peddles prosperity, free trade can promote peace and thus activate a virtuous circle of peace and prosperity.

While the debate on the positive role of international trade for peace, in general, is still open, that European integration led to an unprecedentedly long period of peace in the Old Continent is a matter of fact. Some of the current members did experience war before joining the EU, but there have been no conflicts between any EU countries once they have become members.

Unfortunately, growing regional disparities within countries accompanied by dwindling redistribution of gains and losses are reinforcing the public impression that the virtuous cycle of peace and prosperity is not there for everybody to enjoy, but that it actually works selectively for areas that were already skilled and productive to start with. That European integration could have this unexpected outcome was a point raised by the so-called new economic geography in the late 1980s and early 1990s of the last century (Fujita et al. 1999, Baldwin et al. 2003), originally associated with Nobel Prize-worthy work by Krugman (1991).

At the time, the process that eventually led to the creation of the Single Market and the introduction of a common currency was predominantly informed by the traditional neoclassical paradigm of perfectly competitive markets and constant-returns-to-scale technologies. It typically predicted that, following economic integration, market forces would naturally lead to economic convergence in living standards across European regions.

Krugman's point was instead that firms' market power and increasing returns to scale in production are more realistic features of the modern world, and these could lead to the opposite outcome of integration causing divergence between flourishing 'core' regions and fading 'periphery' regions. However, new economic geography was thick in theory and thin in empirics, so its message got lost as European integration deepened without major traumas.

Things started to change dramatically with the Global Crisis as evidence started mounting about globalisation's two offspring. Globally, due to offshoring and technology transfer, manufacturing and GDP shares have shifted from the G7 to a few developing countries (first of all China); this is the 'Great Convergence' (Baldwin 2016). Locally, due to skill-biased technological change and skill-biased globalisation, the economic geography of G7 countries has become more polarised between outward-looking dynamic growth centres and inward-looking stagnating backwaters; this is the 'Great Divergence' (Moretti 2012). Krugman might have been right after all.

The 'China Syndrome' and the 'East Wind'

In Western Europe, the growing electoral disappointment with the European dream has indeed a strong geographical dimension, and the trend is more pronounced in local economies that have suffered more from two parallel developments (Colantone and Stanig 2018a,b): the 'China syndrome' (Autor et al. 2013), due to the competition shock associated with the rise of China and other low-wage emerging economies as global players; and the 'East wind' associated with the accession of low-wage Eastern European countries to the EU.

The more a local economy has been negatively affected by the two shocks, the more its electors have shifted towards the radical right and its policy packages. These packages typically combine the retrenchment against international openness and the liberalisation of the internal market and more convincingly address the demand for protection by an electorate that, after the austerity following the Crisis, no longer trusts alternatives based on more liberal stances on foreign relations and the parallel promise of a stronger welfare state.

A big reason why liberal democracies in Europe have remained relatively stable since WWII is that most Europeans have had hope that their lives will improve. A big reason why the radical vote has recently been on the rise in several European countries is that part of the electorate has lost this hope. People are increasingly worried that not only their own lives but also the lives of their children will not improve and that the playing field is not level.

On the one hand, despite some progress in curtailing 'tax havens' in recent years, there has never been as much wealth in tax havens as there is today (Zucman 2015). This is seen as unfair because, if public goods and services (including those required to help the transition to a 'green economy') have to be provided in the regions where such hidden wealth comes from, lost tax revenues have to be compensated for by higher taxes on law-abiding households.

On the other hand, fairness is also undermined by dwindling social mobility. In the last decades, social mobility has slowed down across large parts of the industrialised world (OECD 2018), both within and between generations. Social mobility varies greatly across regions within countries, correlates positively with economic activity, education, and social capital, and negatively with inequality (G├╝ell at al. 2018). Renewed migration from the South to the North of Europe after the Crisis (Van Mol and de Valk 2016) is a testimony of the widening relative lack of opportunities in the places that have suffered the most from competition from low-wage countries.

Concluding Remarks

Globalisation has come accompanied by the Great Convergence between countries around the world but also the Great Divergence between regions within several industrialised countries. The same holds within the EU. In recent years, redistributive policies have had only a very limited impact in terms of reversing growing regional inequality. As a result, the traditional liberal package of external liberalisation and internal redistribution has lost its appeal with the electorate, conceding ground to the alternative package of the radical right that consists of external protectionism and internal liberalisation. This is both inefficient and unlikely to lead to more regional convergence. What the political and policy debate in Europe is arguably missing is a clearer focus on two of the main underlying causes of peoples' growing distrust in national and international institutions: fiscal fairness and social mobility.

See original post for references<

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This entry was posted in Banana republicChinaEconomic fundamentalsEuropeFree markets and their discontentsGlobalizationGuest PostIncome disparityPoliticsSocial policyThe destruction of the middle classon July 3, 2019 by .

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Pay transparency is perhaps the most powerful anti-pay-discrimination tool there is in America as it is today: Raksha K... [feedly]

Pay transparency is perhaps the most powerful anti-pay-discrimination tool there is in America as it is today: Raksha K...
https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/07/eg-a-judicial-victory-for-pay-transparency-in-the-united-states-in-the-run-up-to-womens-equal-pay-day-equitable-growth.html

Pay transparency is perhaps the most powerful anti-pay-discrimination tool there is in America as it is today: Raksha Kopparam and Kate BahnA Judicial Victory for Pay Transparency in the United States in the Run-Up to Women's Equal Pay Day: "It's important to consider the importance of a judge's ruling last month that reinstated the collection of pay data by firms who report their employment practices to the EEOC to boost pay transparency.... On March 5, 2019, the judge... ordering the EEOC to collect pay data in the next EEO-1 report.... The ruling could not have been more timely. Just one case in point: In a survey of employees at large technology firms, 60 percent of respondents said that their employer either banned or discouraged discussion of wages...  

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James Truslow Adams and the Origins of "The American Dream" [feedly]

James Truslow Adams and the Origins of "The American Dream"
http://conversableeconomist.blogspot.com/2019/07/james-truslow-adams-and-origins-of.html

The phrase "the American Dream" was coined by a Pulitzer prize-winning historian named James Truslow Adams in his 1931 book The Epic of America. Truslow described the American Dream in this way (pp. 415-416):
But there has been also the American dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position. I once had an intelligent young Frenchman as a guest in New York, and after a few days I asked him what struck him most among his new impressions. Without hesitation he replied, "The way that everyone of every sort looks you right in the eye, without a thought if inequality. Some time ago a foreigner who used to do some work for me, and who had picked up a very fair education, occasionally sat and chatted with me in my study after I had finished my work. One day he said that such a relationship was the great difference between America and his homeland. There, he said, "I would do my work and might get a pleasant word, but I could never sit and talk like this. There is a difference there between social grades which cannot be got over. I would not talk to you there as man to man, but as my employer."

No, the American dream that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of merely material plenty, though that has doubtless counted heavily. It has been much more than that. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected by older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than just for the simple human being of any and every class. And that dream has been realized more fully in actual life here than anywhere else, though very imperfectly even among ourselves.
Adams puts this idea of the "American dream" at the center of his description of telling the American narrative and describing what it means to be an American (p. 174):
If Americanism in the above sense has been a dream, it has also been one of the great realities of American life. It has been a moving force as truly as wheat or gold. It is all that has distinguished American from a mere quantitative comparison in wealth or art or letters or power with the nations of old Europe. It is Americanism, and its shrine has been in the heart of the common man. He may not have done much for American culture in its narrower sense, but in its wider meaning it is he who almost alone has fought to hold fast to the American dream. This is what has made the common man a great figure in the American drama. This is the dominant motif in the American epic.
It seems to me that the American dream is sometimes reduced to the idea of upward economic mobility, and while that's certainly part of the vision, it's useful to remember that Adams meant something considerably broader: not just material well-being, but also the opportunity to shape one's destiny; when social order means less and individuals mean more, when social equality is a common presumption in a way that reaches beyond equal treatment before the law, and when the successes and failures of the country are judged by how they affect everyday people.  

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Dean Baker: Why Aren’t Democrats Talking About Ending Patent-Financed Drug Research? [feedly]

The very clever Dean Baker, a secret socialist economist from Mouseland, nibbling away at  property rights, one article at a time. :)

Why Aren't Democrats Talking About Ending Patent-Financed Drug Research?
http://cepr.net/publications/op-eds-columns/why-aren-t-democrats-talking-about-ending-patent-financed-drug-research

Dean Baker
AlterNet, July 2, 2019

See article on original site

Many of the leading Democratic candidates, especially Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have been putting forward bold progressive plans in a wide variety of areas. Sanders and Warren have both supported a quick transition to a universal Medicare program, with no premiums, co-pays, or deductibles. Several candidates have supported a Green New Deal, which in some versions would guarantee every worker in the country a decent paying job.

Such policies are really big deals. They would both have a huge impact on people's lives and also pose serious problems of implementation. The willingness of Democrats to think big in other areas makes their determination to think small on prescription drugs surprising. Replacing government-granted patent monopoly financing of research is both a huge deal and one that can be implemented gradually without threatening massive disruptions in a transition process.

Free Market Drugs Are a Really Big Deal

First, it is necessary to realize that having drugs available at free market prices, without patent monopolies or other forms of exclusivity, would have an enormous impact on the economy and the health care system. On the first point, we will spend more than $460 billion on prescription drugs in 2019. Without patent protection, these drugs would almost certainly sell for less than $80 billion, implying a savings of more than $380 billion. (I go through this calculation here.)

To put this $380 billion figure in context, it is more than five times the annual food stamp budget. It is more than twice the size of the Trump tax cut. If we project out the savings over the course of a decade, they would come to more than $5 trillion. That is more than three times the amount that is projected to be needed to cover the cost of full forgiveness for outstanding student loan debt. This is more than $30,000 per household. In short, there is huge money at stake by any measure.

Of course this goes well beyond a dollar and cents calculation. Millions of people facing debilitating conditions or potentially fatal diseases struggle to come up with the money needed to pay for their drugs. This often requires patients and/or their families to battle with insurance companies. The need to raise money for drugs is also now a major use of GoFundMe pages.

If the research was paid in advance, so drugs could be sold as generics, it would not be a struggle to pay for even the newest and most innovative drugs. The price of generics is often less than 1.0 percent of the cost of high-priced drugs in the United States. For example, when the Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi was selling for $50,000 in the United States, a high-quality generic version was available in India for just over $300 for a 12-week course of treatment.

There would be comparable stories for breakthrough drugs and treatments in other areas, many of which now sell for more than $100,000 a year in the United States. The most expensive now cost more than $1 million. Without government-granted patent monopolies, the prices would almost certainly be less than 1.0 percent as high, and possibly closer to 0.1 percent of the current U.S. price.

The basic story is drugs are cheap. It is rare that the manufacturing and distribution process involves major costs. Prices are a problem because of government-granted monopolies.

The patent problem goes beyond prescription drugs. It applies to medical equipment and medical tests as well. An MRI or other scan would just be a couple of hundred dollars if it was a question of covering the wear and tear on the equipment and the pay for a skilled technician to conduct the scan and a doctor to read and assess the findings. It is patent monopolies that make these scans expensive. The savings from ending reliance on patent monopolies in these other areas would probably add $100 to $150 billion annually to the total, another 1.5-2.0 multiples of the annual food stamp budget.

National Public Radio recently did a piece about a woman who had a surprise bill of $94,000 for neuromonitoring services during a surgery on her spine. The reason this process could be billed for $94,000, as opposed to perhaps one-twentieth of this amount, is that the process is patented. If the neuromonitoring system had been developed with public funds, there would be no huge bill with which to surprise patients.

In short, the main reason that so many aspects of medical care are tremendously expensive is that we give companies patent monopolies. Since they are selling items that are essential for people's health or their life, these monopolies allow them to charge outlandish prices. This is the same story as if firefighters set prices based on what it is worth to have family members rescued from burning houses. Needless to say, we would all be willing to pay lots of money in such situations, especially if we could get a third party (e.g., our insurance company or the government) to foot the bill.

Direct Public Funding: The Alternative to Patent Monopolies

The pharmaceutical industry and its supporters in Congress try to pretend that we couldn't possibly develop new drugs without the incentive of patent monopolies. For some reason we are supposed to believe that, even though in all sorts of jobs people work for money, they can only develop drugs with the prospect of getting a patent. I suppose you have to be on the pharmaceutical industry's payroll to understand this logic.

The industry's argument gets even more bizarre when we consider that it is the biggest advocate of increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH and other agencies get more than $40 billion a year to do biomedical research. This money is primarily spent on basic research.

Somehow we are supposed to believe that this money is well spent, but if the government were to spend more to replace the industry's patent-supported research and clinical testing, it would be the same thing as throwing the money in the toilet. The industry's argument is especially bizarre since many important drugs have actually been developed with government funding. In addition, the NIH has supported thousands of clinical trials.

One interesting comparison is the $2.6 billion that the industry claims it costs it to develop a single drug through patent monopoly financing, with the dozens of drugs and treatments that have been developed by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative with a cumulative 15-year budget that is less than half of this amount. While there are differences that make the two efforts not strictly comparable, the comparison shows why it is difficult to take seriously the pharmaceutical industry's claims that we have the best possible system for financing research.

There is a good argument for not having all research done directly by the government, but there is no reason that it could not be contracted out to private companies who would operate under long-term contracts. The condition of getting a contract would be that all findings are posted on the internet as soon as practical and that all patentable inventions would be placed in the public domain. (As a practical matter, it would probably be desirable to "copyleft" the patents. This is discussed in somewhat more detail in chapter 5 of Rigged.)

The incentives for a company operating on a long-term contract would be to try to make a case for having a contract renewed and expanded. This would mean doing as much as possible to improve public health in the areas for which they have contracted research. This includes not just developing useful drugs, but also scientific breakthroughs that could lead others to develop useful drugs or other treatments.

In this way, the incentives are directly at odds with the patent system. Under the patent system, companies have incentive to keep their findings secret (apart from having to disclose information to get the patent) in order to be best positioned to be able to profit from them. Under this public funding system, they would have incentive to publicize their findings as widely as possible so that they could get credit if they eventually lead to the development of a product or process with important public health benefits.

Another huge advantage of this system is that it would take away the corruption that is endemic to the system of patent-supported drug research. Patent monopolies give drug companies an enormous incentive to push their drugs as widely as possible, even when they may not be the most effective drug or have harmful side effects. Purdue Pharma would not have been pushing OxyContin so vigorously if it were selling at generic prices. While the opioid epidemic is an extreme case, drug companies exaggerate the benefits of their drugs and conceal negative side effects all the time.

Going from Patent Monopolies to Free Market Drugs

There is one other important aspect to the switch away from patent monopoly-supported research to direct public funding; it can be done piecemeal. There is no reason to deny companies the opportunity to go ahead and do research with the expectation that they will recover the costs with their patent monopolies. They just would have to worry that they will be competing with a new drug that is every bit as good, or possibly even better, selling at generic prices.

We don't even have to try to displace patent-supported research all at once. There is no reason the government can't add $4 or $5 billion to its annual spending on NIH to support the development and testing of drugs in specific areas, such as cancer or heart disease. This can allow us both to see how the effectiveness of direct funding compares to patent-supported research and also to uncover whatever problems exist with this mechanism.

Given this simple story, it is difficult to see why none of the more progressive Democratic presidential candidates have taken up the cause of ending patent-monopoly financing of prescription drug research. This failure is especially peculiar, since both Sanders and Warren (along with Senators Booker, Gillibrand, and Klobuchar) were sponsors of a bill that would provide some public funding for research that would lead to new drugs being introduced as generics.

It's great to see the candidates proposing plans that would bring down the cost of prescription drugs. It would be even better to see them propose plans that would stop the government from making them expensive in the first place.


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Monday, July 1, 2019

Barry Ritholtz: BBRG: The U.S. Labor Market Isn’t all That Healthy [feedly]

BBRG: The U.S. Labor Market Isn't all That Healthy
https://ritholtz.com/2019/07/bbrg-the-u-s-labor-market-isnt-all-that-healthy/

By most measures, the U.S. is at or very close to full employment. The unemployment rate today is 3.6%, the lowest since 1969.

And yet, there is a sense that something is amiss.

Consider the following data points. In a typical full employment economy, this is what you would expect to see:

-- Robust wage growth;

-- Rising consumer confidence; 

-- Record employment-to-population;

-- Longer workweeks and more overtime;

-- The chief financial officer survey showing confidence about the future;

-- Rising quit rates as employees aggressively change jobs;

-- Low and falling levels of people marginally attached to labor force;

-- High and rising consumer spending;

-- More household formations;

-- Housing sales (for new and existing homes) are strong;

In many case, these measures are not where you might expect them to be in the 10th year of what is now the longest economic expansion in postwar history. This isn't to suggest that these are portents of a tired economy beginning to run out of fuel, but rather, indicators of something more insidious -- larger, structural failures within the U.S. economy.

Don't be too quick to dismiss this as the result of the unholy trinity of labor woes: globalization, automation and decline of labor unions. These are well-known factors that have been keeping real wages in check for three decades.

Nor should we just blame the Great Recession and financial crisis for this state of affairs. We know that this is not the usual economic cycle, and that recoveries from financial crises take longer. No, something more fundamental seems to be in flux.

Yet there might be a much simpler explanation: The U.S. is nowhere near full employment.

There is a host of other data points that point to the underlying malaise of the labor market. Although not all of these are strictly economic measures, they include:

-- Long-term unemployment remains elevated;

-- A lot of people working part-time want full-time work;

-- Disability filings have increased dramatically;

-- The number of people marginally attached to the labor force is high;

-- Major increase in rates of depression and social withdrawal;  

-- Rising suicides;

-- Increase in early retirements;

-- Americans are angrier than they were a generation ago.

One labor economist who has studied this closely is Dartmouth professor David Blanchflower. The former member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee is the author of a new book, "Not Working: Where Have All the Good Jobs Gone?"

I spoke last month with Blanchflower about his work for a Masters in Business podcast. His conclusion is the U.S. economy is nowhere near full employment. According to him, unemployment can fall by a third from its present levels, closer to 2.5 percent, before we reach full employment. It is an outlier position, but one he backs up with a wealth of data.

In his telling, the underemployed today include those who might be working fewer hours than they would like. Then there are those with multiple part-time jobs and working as many as 80 hours a week, but because they are not with a single employer, they receive no retirement plan or health-care benefits. The gig economy was supposed to create lots of well-paying, independent jobs; these Uber expectations have been dashed by the reality of long hours, mediocre pay and no benefits.

The shift to lower wage jobs for entire groups of workers is similarly problematic. Working full time while earning much less than in the past has profound ramifications. Entire industries have been disrupted, and often employees find taking a new job in a different sectors leads to near-entry-level pay -- equivalent to a 30, 40, even 50% salary cut. These folks may be working full time but they clearly are underemployed relative to their experience, skills and past work. This is not captured in economic data.

Blanchflower explains how underemployment manifests itself in a variety of data points outside traditional economic measures. He notes that the plight of the underemployed is contributing to widespread despair, a worsening drug epidemic, and increased suicide rates. These were memorably highlighted in the research of Nobel winning economist Angus Deaton and his wife, Anne Case, who documented the rise of "death of despair" among working class whites. Blanchflower even ties the phenomenon of underemployment to the rise of far-right populism, both in the U.S. and Europe.

Blanchflower also studies happiness and points out that being poor in America often leads to stress, insecurity and hopelessness. In "Unhappiness and Pain in Modern America," he and his co-author, Andrew J. Oswald of the University of Warwick, probe the disquieting idea that not only are Americans in greater pain than citizens of other countries, but that self-reported levels of happiness are falling.

The U.S. will hold a presidential election in 2020. We should be hearing a lot more about underemployment and its harmful consequences in the coming campaign. If we don't, that points to something even more problematic about the state of America.


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