An EconTalk Podcast Listening Guide

William Bernstein on Inequality

Listen to the EconTalk podcast William Bernstein on Inequality and consider these questions.

1. What worries William Bernstein about inequality?

2. Bernstein describes the Whitehall study as one indicative of the dangers of inequality. Describe the results of the Whitehall study. Why is Bernstein troubled by them, while interviewer Roberts is not?

3. What is the “epidemiological transition” in economics? Is the relationship between national income and mortality rates convincing?

4. What objections does interviewer Roberts raise regarding the statistical analysis employed in cases like the Whitehall and Academy Awards studies? Do you think Roberts’ objections adequately counter Bernstein’s concerns?

5. Bernstein suggests that health is not the only area we can look to find the effects of inequality. What other data does he use to suggest that inequality has detrimental effects on society? To what extent are you convinced?

6. Roberts and Bernstein shift the conversation toward macroeconomic data, and consider the moral and efficiency arguments for taxation. What is the crux of each argument?

7. Roberts and Bernstein discuss the book The Uneasy Case for Progressive Taxation. What is this “case”? Are you persuaded, easily or otherwise? Why?

8. Roberts and Bernstein agree that some amount of income inequality will always be present, and not necessarily undesirable. What factors might account for the amount of income inequality both gentlemen can accept?