Lane Kenworthy cropStatistics show that the opportunity gap for Americans from different family backgrounds has been growing in recent decades. The debate over how to reverse this mounting disparity between the rich and the poor was central to last fall’s national elections.

Lane Kenworthy, one of the UA’s most prolific writers and researchers, will give a talk at Academy Village next Thursday (2/7) about the causes of and possible cures for the nation’s growing social and economic inequality.

Sponsored by the Arizona Senior Academy as part of its weekly lecture series, the talk is entitled “It’s Hard to Make It in America.” It will begin at 3:30 p.m. in the Great Room of the ASA Building on the campus of the Academy Village.

Kenworthy, a UA faculty member since 1994, received a B.A. degree from Harvard University and his Master’s and Ph.D. Degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has written four books and authored or co-authored dozens of book chapters, professional journal articles and reports since he was a graduate student in Wisconsin in the early 1990s.  He has several other works in progress.

His Arizona Senior Academy talk is based on an article he wrote for Foreign Affairsmagazine (November-December 2012) with a longer title: “It’s Hard to Make It in America: How the United States Stopped Being the Land of Opportunity.”

The full article is reprinted in a blog Kenworthy maintains (Consider the Evidence, to discuss current social, economic and political ideas.

In the article, he argues that what he calls the “opportunity gap” – the relative ability of a person to move up the income ladder relative to his or her parents’ position – had been narrowing in the United States until about 1970. Since then, the gap has widened.

“Left unchecked,” Kenworthy wrote, “the trend threatens not only to offset the progress the United States has made on gender and racial equality but also to usher in a future of deep and hardened class divisions.”

His ASA talk will review the various remedies put forth to narrow the gap. Before coming to Arizona, Kenworthy held faculty positions at Emory University and East Carolina University.   A popular guest speaker, he has lectured in many locations in the United States and abroad.  He has also been a visiting professor at universities and academic centers in Holland, Italy, England, Spain, Sweden and Germany.

Submitted by H. Deon Holt,  Academy Village Volunteer

Examining America’s Opportunity Gap: Feb. 2013