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77 of 85 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 11, 2012
Unlike the two previous reviewers I have actually read the book. The author is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago who has written extensively about the gender wage gap, the economics of aging, Social Security, capital and labor taxation and voting. Professor Mulligan is the recipient of numerous awards including the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, The John M. Olin Foundation and the National Science Foundation. He is not a supporter of Keynesian economics and is considered by many to be the antithesis of Paul Krugman.

The thrust of this book is that the overly generous social safety net programs have caused the lethargic recovery from the recession and intractably high unemployment rate. Mulligan believes that redistribution of wealth undermined the incentive to work and damaged productivity.

The Obama administration's excessive levels of spending, with the complicity of Congress, have caused a rise in unemployment much higher than it would have been otherwise.
Since 2007, many essential traits of the economy and the labor market have changed radically. Congress raised the minimum wage three times in the past five years, thus increasing the cost of labor and decreasing the available number of jobs. With the exception of Medicaid, subsidies bestowed on the unemployed in the forms of loan forgiveness and government transfers almost tripled. The liberality of mean-tested subsidies like food stamps and unemployment insurance has steadily increased. Consumer loans, mortgages, business debts and tax debts forgiveness has been vastly expanded and "government transfers almost tripled". The average yearly benefit for not working rose from $10,000 in 2007 to $16,000 in 2009 and keeps on growing. Unemployment benefits that have now been expanded from six months to two years act as a disincentive to seek work. This is diametrically opposed to the Obama administration theory, that government-provided benefits promote consumer spending, which leads to an improved economy and stimulates more job openings and employment.
Labor economist Casey B. Mulligan argues that it was not a lack of spending that caused the economy to decline and cause lay-offs but that "Businesses perceived labor to be more expensive than it was before the recession began" because of the added generous unemployment benefits shrank the supply of workers. Mulligan showed that " businesses increased their use of production input other than labor hours", meaning that they automated and replaced workers with machines.
Mulligan demonstrates that a combination of higher marginal tax rates and a higher federal minimum wage worsened the unemployment crisis, and, why labor market upheavals suddenly increased, and to what degree those increases were caused by the various measures enacted to boost the labor market. He does not question or deny that a surge in social benefits was necessary to forestall poverty and its devastation of unemployed families. He matter-of-fact analyses the deleterious effect of short-term subsidies on long-term general economic welfare.

Even though I somewhat disagree with the author's unconventional and counter-intuitive conclusions, that were reached by analyzing the labor market at the aggregate level, I recommend "The Redistribution Recession" as an intelligently thought out treatise, concise, well written and researched. Policymakers on both sides of the isle should read this book.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2013
Possibly the most important economics book of the decade but an incredibly difficult read. If you don't have a graduate degree in economics, as I do, you'll find it the toughest read of your life. Equation on top of equation, dense prose, obtuse diagrams, confusing tables; all the necessary ingredients to drive the average reader insane. But the content is wonderful! With vast detail and brilliant analysis, the author demonstrates how the government turned a bad recession into an unemployment nightmare. That's on top of the Goldman Sachs Demopublicans bailing out Wall Street at the expense of Main Street. Furthermore, these results strongly support the growing fear that Obamacare will be another unemployment disaster. If you believe it's an accident that Obamacare's employer provisions have been suspended for the coming election year, I have a bridge to sell you.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2013
As a guess, the book contains maybe 100 formulas, including a couple apparently using calculus, about 50 graphs and maybe 25 tables. This is not an accessible book for the common folk or even people with PhDs in other fields. Think of it as a journal article that is too long for a peer-reviewed journal. You have been warned.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
While the focus of most discussions following the crisis has (correctly, in my opinion) be centered in the financial markets, too little attention has been paid to how the policy responses affect incentives in labor supply. The general presumption seems to be that labor market frictions explain all that is going on in this market. Although we need not agree with the whole analysis, as usual, Casey Mulligan comes up with a different angle that should not be dismissed, but closely scrutinized.
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23 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2013
Don't be haters people! You may not like Dr. Mulligans conclusions but they are straight from the data. When you increase, at the margin, the compensation available for being unemployed, you will increase, at the margin, the number of people who remain unemployed.

One of Dr. Mulligan's most important insights is the disproportionate toll these welfare policies have had on younger Americans.

Buy this book and read it!
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2014
Excellent and original. As a fellow economist I devoured the book and its content. Real, accurate and easy to read. Totally explains the labor changes due to tech, etc
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on May 28, 2015
You'll need an Econ 101 background to fully appreciate Mulligan's mathematical model, but the book contains a lot of important information accessible to the non-mathematically inclined. Mulligan looks carefully at the employment of different groups since 2009. It turns out that people who weren't eligible for welfare worked about the same number of hours or even more since the Collapse of 2008. Americans who could get various kinds of welfare benefits, as long as they didn't earn much, responded by working less or not working at all.

One thing that distinguishes this book from more conventional literature is that Mulligan looks at means-tested debt relief, including mortgage relief. It turns out that the government set things up so that lower-income Americans with mortgages could save $1.31 for every $1 by which they cut their earnings from wages. I.e., people who worked less actually had more spending power.

The book also provides a good survey of more standard economic research, e.g., the extent to which a higher minimum wage will cut employment and the extent to which people respond to extra welfare benefits by cutting their working hours. Very relevant right now to the political discussion around increasing minimum wages to $15/hour.
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38 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2012
before submitting a review. B Edwards gave this book two stars after admitting that he hadn't read it. He claims the price is too high. My review is based on nothing other than his review. If Amazon is willing to allow someone to trash a book based only on its price, I should be able to laud it, if only to offset the earlier review.
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5 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2012
I must give this book 5-stars based on the sample chapter. I will pay the so called high price described by other reviewers, because he has obviously done much work and deserves to be paid for his efforts.
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4 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2012
I give the offer 5 stars for just being willing to contradict the leftist bullies that university's have become these days....the irony of having tenure.
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