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Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age Hardcover – 27 Apr 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (27 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691136637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691136639
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,055,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


[E]xtraordinarily insightful. -- Bob Braun "Newark Star-Ledger"

[E]xtraordinarily insightful. -- Bob Braun, Newark Star-Ledger

[E]xtraordinarily insightful. -- Bob Braun, Newark Star-Ledger

[I recommend] Larry M. Bartels's "Unequal Democracy". Especially at this time every thoughtful American needs to learn as much as possible about the relationship of politics to economics.--Bill Clinton "Daily Beast "

Many Americans know that there are characteristic policy differences between the [Republican and Democratic] parties. But few are aware of two important facts about the post-World War II era, both of which are brilliantly delineated in a new book, "Unequal Democracy", by Larry M. Bartels, a professor of political science at Princeton. Understanding them might help voters see what could be at stake, economically speaking, in November.--Alan Blinder "New York Times "

Obama can connect with voters on the economy by using history as a guideline. He should start by reading "Unequal Democracy", by Princeton academic Larry Bartels. The non-partisan and non-political Bartels points out devastatingly after an exhaustive study of Democratic and Republican presidents that the Democrats built a better economy and a more just society.--James Carville "CNN "

The book is exemplary throughout in its transparency with regard to the data and Bartels's analytic strategy for using them, in its attention to alternative explanations for a given outcome, and in its balance between not over-reaching and asserting a clear, controversial, and important thesis. . . . Full of evidence, insights, and surprises. . . . The book is never less than provocative and is often revelatory.--Jennifer Hochschild "Perspectives on Politics "

[E]xtraordinarily insightful.--Bob Braun "Newark Star-Ledger "

[A] provocative new book by Princeton professor Larry M. Bartels, one of the country's leading political scientists. One of Bartels's most intriguing conclusions is that the political timing of economic growth has influenced voters. Republican presidents...have often generated significant economic growth rates in presidential election years, while Democratic presidents have not.--Dan Balz "Washington Post "

Bartels is the political scientist of the moment. Along with Obama, Bill Clinton also read and recommends "Unequal Democracy". [M]ost people on the street could have told Bartels that the working poor fare better under Democrats . . . but the importance of these and some other findings in the book . . . is that they use scholarly methods to provide political explanations for economic problems.--Michael Tomasky "New York Review of Books "


"Unequal Democracy" debunks many myths about politics in contemporary America, using the widening gap between the rich and the poor to shed disturbing light on the workings of American democracy. Larry Bartels shows that increasing inequality is not simply the result of economic forces, but the product of broad-reaching policy choices in a political system dominated by partisan ideologies and the interests of the wealthy. Bartels demonstrates that elected officials respond to the views of affluent constituents but ignore the views of poor people. He shows that Republican presidents in particular have consistently produced much less income growth for middle-class and working-poor families than for affluent families, greatly increasing inequality.He provides revealing case studies of key policy shifts contributing to inequality, including the massive Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 and the erosion of the minimum wage.

Finally, he challenges conventional explanations for why many voters seem to vote against their own economic interests, contending that working-class voters have not been lured into the Republican camp by 'values issues' like abortion and gay marriage, as commonly believed, but that Republican presidents have been remarkably successful in timing income growth to cater to short-sighted voters. "Unequal Democracy" is social science at its very best. It provides a deep and searching analysis of the political causes and consequences of America's growing income gap, and a sobering assessment of the capacity of the American political system to live up to its democratic ideals.

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5.0 out of 5 starsThis book explains the impact of extraordinary concentrations of wealth on democracy
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