Policymakers will welcome this practical guide to overcoming “cultural hangovers” and allowing more Americans to participate...

AMERICA'S MOMENT

CREATING OPPORTUNITY IN THE CONNECTED AGE

An optimistic report on ways to harness the power of the digital age to create jobs for Americans.

In this rich compendium of information on new tools “to rework America, to rebuild the American dream,” a bevy of business, technology, and other experts convened by the Markle Foundation explains that the same modern forces that have erased so many American jobs—technological leaps and globalization—can become the basis for a vast expansion of work opportunities. Data and analytics can help develop new jobs, and the Internet can better match employers and middle-skill workers. Novel ways can be found to categorize and credential talent for an increasingly “no-collar” world. Much of the book focuses on the need to overcome old mindsets and habits that dominate the world of work. Online connections are now making possible an explosive growth in commerce, say participants in the “Rework America” initiative. For example, a Brooklyn-based woman now transmits designs digitally to a shoe store in China, which custom-makes shoes with a 3-D printer. As better online platforms are developed, more American sellers will be able to reach foreign buyers. At home, an outdated labor market system fails to match employers and workers when it comes to fast-changing skills and job categories. Too often, companies engage in up-credentialing, requiring college-level skills for jobs, such as entry-level IT positions, that do not require them. On the other hand, college dropouts get little credit for the college work they have completed. Taking a more nuanced view of skill-to-job matching can generate many more needed middle-skills workers, an area expected to be the largest part of all future job growth. Other topics include the need to anticipate new kinds of training needs and find better methods for sharing data.

Policymakers will welcome this practical guide to overcoming “cultural hangovers” and allowing more Americans to participate in the benefits of our networked era.

Pub Date: June 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-393-28513-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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