Cómo la desigualdad alimentó la crisis

CHICAGO – Antes de la reciente crisis financiera, los políticos estadounidenses de ambos partidos alentaban a Fannie Mae y Freddie Mac, los gigantescos organismos hipotecarios respaldados por el gobierno, a que dieran préstamos a las personas de bajos ingresos de sus circunscripciones. Detrás de esta nueva pasión por dar vivienda a los pobres había una preocupación más grave: la creciente desigualdad de los ingresos.

Desde los años setenta, el salario de los empleados en el percentil 90 de la distribución de los ingresos en los Estados Unidos –como los gerentes de oficinas—han aumentado a una velocidad mucho mayor que los salarios del trabajador medio (del percentil 50), como los obreros y los asistentes de administración. Varios factores explican esta diferencia.

Tal vez el más importante es que el progreso tecnológico en los Estados Unidos exige que la fuerza de trabajo esté cada vez más capacitada. Un diploma de educación media bastaba para los trabajadores administrativos hace 40 años, mientras que ahora un título universitario apenas es suficiente. Sin embargo, el sistema educativo no ha logrado dar la educación necesaria a una parte suficiente de la fuerza de trabajo. Las razones van desde la calidad mediocre de la nutrición, socialización y aprendizaje en la primera edad hasta escuelas primarias y secundarias disfuncionales que dan lugar a que muchos estadounidenses salgan sin preparación para la universidad.

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