Heather Boushey with Unbound: How Inequality Constricts Our Economy and What We Can Do about It — Programs with a Purpose
January 9, 2020
Heather Boushey is the President & CEO and co-founder of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, which was launched in 2013. She is one of the nation’s most influential voices on economic policy and a leading economist who focuses on the intersection between economic inequality, growth, and public policy. Her forthcoming book, Unbound: How Economic Inequality Constricts Our Economy and What We Can Do About It (Harvard University Press) will be released in October 2019. She is also the author of Finding Time: The Economics of Work-Life Conflict, and co-edited a volume of 22 essays about how to integrate inequality into economic thinking called After Piketty: The Agenda for Economics and Inequality.
The New York Times has called Boushey one of the “most vibrant voices in the field,” and Politico twice named her one of the top 50 “thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics.” Boushey writes regularly for popular media, including The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Democracy Journal, and she makes frequent television appearances on Bloomberg, MSNBC, CNBC, and PBS. She previously served as chief economist for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential transition team and as an economist for the Center for American Progress, the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and the Economic Policy Institute. She sits on the board of the Opportunity Institute and is an associate editor of Feminist Economics. She received her doctorate in economics from the New School for Social Research and her bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College.
About Unbound: How Inequality Constricts Our Economy and What We Can Do about It
From one of Washington’s most influential voices on economic policy, a lively and original argument that reducing inequality is not just fair but also key to delivering broadly shared economic growth and stability.
Do we have to choose between equality and prosperity? Many think that reducing economic inequality would require such heavy-handed interference with market forces that it would stifle economic growth. Heather Boushey, one of Washington’s most influential economic voices, insists nothing could be further from the truth. Presenting cutting-edge economics with journalistic verve, she shows how rising inequality has become a drag on growth and an impediment to a competitive United States marketplace for employers and employees alike.
Boushey argues that inequality undermines growth in three ways. It obstructs the supply of talent, ideas, and capital as wealthy families monopolize the best educational, social, and economic opportunities. It also subverts private competition and public investment. Powerful corporations muscle competitors out of business, in the process costing consumers, suppressing wages, and hobbling innovation, while governments underfund key public goods that make the American Dream possible, from schools to transportation infrastructure to information and communication technology networks. Finally, it distorts consumer demand as stagnant wages and meager workplace benefits rob ordinary people of buying power and pushes the economy toward financial instability.
Boushey makes this case with a clear, accessible tour of the best of contemporary economic research, while also injecting a passion for her subject gained through years of research into the economics of work–life conflict and policy work in the trenches of federal government. Unbound exposes deep problems in the U.S. economy, but its conclusion is optimistic. We can preserve the best of our nation’s economic and political traditions, and improve on them, by pursuing policies that reduce inequality―and by doing so, boost broadly shared economic growth.