From economic growth to decent jobs and middle class prosperity? Post-1979 U.S. employment performance in international perspective

Project Summary:

Labor market institutions differ substantially across developed nations, and the result is a fair amount of variation in the quality of jobs created. This research will shed light on how economic growth translates into high-quality jobs characterized by decent wages and stability, or, in simple terms “good jobs.” The research will provide a detailed exploration of the quantity and quality of American employment growth since 1979 by economic sector, occupation and demographic group. It will conduct similar in-depth work on two other wealthy, large, and diverse countries, Canada and France, as well as a cross-country analysis of approximately 25 countries aimed at the same objective. The research will facilitate more nuanced comparisons between policy progress in the United States versus that of other developed nations.


David R. Howell, a member of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth’s Research Advisory Board, is Professor of Economics and Public Policy at The New School’s Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy, where he also directs the Doctoral Program in Public and Urban Policy. He is an affiliated member of the New School’s economics department, a Faculty Research Fellow at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (The New School), and a Research Scholar at the Political Economy Research Institute (U-Mass Amherst). His research focuses on institutions and labor market outcomes. Howell received his Ph.D. in economics from The New School for Social Research.

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