Political economy of inequality examined during Sichel Series

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News
Photo of Dr. Teresa Ghilarducci.


KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The political economy of inequality will take center stage in the coming months as the 2017-18 Werner Sichel Lecture Series unfolds at Western Michigan University.

With the theme "The Political Economy of Inequality: U.S. and Global Dimensions," the series kicks off on Sept. 13 with Dr. Teresa Ghilarducci, the Irene and Bernhard L. Schwartz Professor of Economic Analysis and director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School of Social Research in New York. Her topic is "The Political Economy of Retirement Time Inequality in the Organization for Economic-Cooperation and Development."

All Sichel presentations are from noon to 1:15 Wednesdays and include a light lunch reception after the lecture. The lectures are free and open to the public in 2028 Brown Hall.


Ghilarducci is a labor economist, retirement author and retirement security expert. Her widely circulated New York Times op-ed "Our Ridiculous Approach to Retirement" brought attention to her fresh and comprehensive critique of the American way of provisioning for retirement.

Her book, "When I'm 64: The Plot Against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them," presents her cutting-edge policy recommendations for restructuring the United States' deteriorating retirement income security system. Her book, "Labor's Capital: The Economics and Politics of Employer Pensions," won an Association of American Publishers award in 1992.

For the past five years, she has served as court appointed trustee of the $50 billion retiree health care fund for Ford, GM and Chrysler retirees. Before joining the New School, she was a professor at the University of Notre Dame and the 2006-08 Wurf Fellow at Harvard Law School. Her research has been funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, U.S. Department of Labor, Ford Foundation and Retirement Research Foundation.

Ghilarducci has received thousands of dollars in grants for her research and professional innovation, including about $4 million for the Retirement Equity Lab. She received her bachelors and doctoral degrees in economics from the University of California, Berkley.

Upcoming presentations

Other dates, presenters and topics in this year's series are:

  • Sept. 27: Dr. Charles Ballard, professor of economics, Michigan State University, "The Fall and Rise of Income Equality in the United States."
  • Oct. 25: Dr. James Hines Jr., professor of economics and law, University of Michigan, "Income Inequality, Progressive Taxation and Tax Expenditures."
  • Jan. 17: Dr. Mary E. Corcoran, professor of public policy, political science and women's studies, University of Michigan, "America's Unequal Playing Field: The Gaps Between Poor and Rich Children's Resources."
  • Feb. 14: Dr. David Lam, professor of economics and director of the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, "Why has Income Inequality Increased while Education Inequality Has Decreased in Many Developing Countries."
  • March 28: Dr. Howard Stein, professor in the Department of Afro American and African Studies and the Department of Epidemiology in the School of Public Health, University of Michigan, "Institutions, Structures and Policy Paradigms in Sub-Saharan Africa: Toward Understanding Inequality."

About the Series

The Sichel Series is organized by the WMU Department of Economics and named in honor of Werner Sichel, a longtime WMU economics professor and former department chair, who retired in 2004. The series is cosponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. The lectures are open to the public and formatted with the general public in mind.

This year's series is being organized by Drs. Sisay Asefa and  Wei-Chiao Huang, WMU professors of economics. For more information, contact Asefa at sisay.asefa@wmich.edu or (269) 387-5556 or Huang at wei-chiao.huang@wmich.edu or (269) 387-5528.

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