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No way out

from Shimshon Bichler & Jonathan Nitzan

For much of the 20th and early 21st centuries, U.S. unemployment and incarceration went hand in hand. This is how the rulers disciplined their subjects. But during the Great Depression and Great Recession, the link broke, if only temporarily. The following figure shows these patterns.

B and N 23-6 fig_01

Part of the rational for this two-pronged discipline is illustrated in the next figure: since the Second World War, the income share of the top 10% of the U.S. population has been tightly correlated with the country’s correctional population, although this correlation seems to have broken recently.

B and N 23-6 fig_02

For more, see our 2004 paper ‘No Way Out’ bnarchives.yorku.ca/391/

  1. June 23, 2021 at 3:26 am

    (No way out) of here, said the joker to the thief…. Remember Bob Dylan? But then De Tocqueville made similar observations in the 19th century, way before this very interesting graph starts.

    But serious, the connection between inequality, or rather concentration of wealth and imprisonment remains an associative one only. That sort of thing requires anthropologists raster then economists, even those of the evolutionary kind.. The inequality issue in the USA has been studied by a generation of social scientists, such as Marvin Harris, culminating in the massive report on the “An American Dilemma: the Negro Problem and Modern Democracy” made by many first rate social scientists and led by Gunnar Myrdal. Read it!

    Maybe then you can share with your reader what you really mean by fielding these graphs.

  2. June 23, 2021 at 4:29 am

    For more, see our 2004 paper ‘No Way Out’ bnarchives.yorku.ca/391/

  3. June 23, 2021 at 4:31 am

    Correction: 2014 paper, ‘No Way Out’, http://bnarchives.yorku.ca

  4. Ken Zimmerman
    June 23, 2021 at 11:09 am

    Historically societies that are unequal in one dimension (e.g., economic) often tend to be unequal in other dimensions (e.g., punishment, education, access to health care). We find this tendency generally in societies with systemic and tightly controlled stratification arrangements that stretch back many generations that disadvantage specific and well identified subgroups within the society. The US is one such society.

  5. July 8, 2021 at 8:07 pm

    Seems logical that in depressions more effort is made to make provisions for the unfortunates left with no means of support. Outside these periods, people are expected to have money, and many have to obtain it illegally.
    CoViD unemployment recently, was offset with social measures, plus incarceration may have been limited in the attempt to reduce viral spread in institutions.
    No need to look at share of national wealth figures to explain this.

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