Lane Kenworthy

Professor of Sociology and Yankelovich Chair in Social Thought, University of California-San Diego
Chapter Member: San Diego SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Lane

I study the causes and consequences of living standards, poverty, inequality, mobility, employment, economic growth, social policy, taxes, public opinion, politics, and more in the United States and other rich longstanding-democratic countries. My books include The Good Society (, Social Democratic Capitalism (2020), How Big Should Our Government Be? (2016, with Jon Bakija, Peter Lindert, and Jeff Madrick), Social Democratic America (2014), Progress for the Poor (2011), Jobs with Equality (2008), Egalitarian Capitalism (2004), and In Search of National Economic Success (1995).

In the News

Lane Kenworthy quoted on how people who were born worse off tend to have fewer opportunities in life by Christy McClendon, "Arizona Must Close Its Opportunity Gap" Arizona Republic, July 11, 2016.
Lane Kenworthy quoted on public concern about rising inequality by Daniel Ben-Ami, "Do We Still Care about Social Inequality?" Financial Times, June 26, 2015.
Lane Kenworthy quoted on the evolution of household income by Eduardo Porter, "Big Mac Test Shows Job Market is Not Working to Distribute Wealth" New York Times, April 21, 2015.
Lane Kenworthy's research on social democratic systems discussed by Tim Worstall, "Turning America into Sweden; Lane Kenworthy, Yes, But Add Some Scott Sumner," Forbes, October 8, 2014.
Lane Kenworthy's research on how and why poverty levels may have changed discussed by Yoohyun Jung, "Fewer Tucson Children in Poverty, Census Finds," Arizona Daily Star, September 19, 2014.
Guest to discuss U.S. economic policy on Minnesota Public Radio, Lane Kenworthy, April 22, 2014.
Lane Kenworthy's research on what are the actual effects, and not just correlative aspects, of economic inequality in the U.S. discussed by Eduardo Porter, "Income Equality: A Search for Consequences," New York Times, March 25, 2014.
"This Sociologist Has a Plan to Make America More Like Sweden," Lane Kenworthy, Interview with Dylan Matthews, Washington Post, January 9, 2014.
"Five Myths about the Middle Class," Lane Kenworthy, Washington Post, August 3, 2012.
"Where Has the Rising Tide Lifted All Boats?," Lane Kenworthy, Behind the News with Doug Henwood, KPFA Radio, January 14, 2012.
"What is Government Good For?’ and Related Topics," Lane Kenworthy, Democratic Perspectives, KAZM Radio, January 2, 2012.
"The Impact of Economic Growth and Government on the Poor," Lane Kenworthy, Interview with the Institute for Public Policy Research, November 22, 2011.
"The Great Decoupling in the United States and Implications for the United Kingdom," Lane Kenworthy, Interview with the Resolution Foundation, November 21, 2011.
"To Boost Incomes, Uncle Sam Should Lend a Hand," Lane Kenworthy, Christian Science Monitor, October 4, 2011.
Regular contributions by Lane Kenworthy to Consider the Evidence.


"When Does Economic Growth Benefit People on Low to Middle Incomes – and Why?,"

Report for Commission on Living Standards

, Resolution Foundation, 2011.

Argues that since the 1970s, government transfers and taxes have played a key role in ensuring that economic growth results in rising incomes for working-class and middle-class households.

Social Democratic America (Oxford University Press, 2014).
Examines the American welfare state and its impact on American society from many angles. Presents a controversial thesis that challenges long-held but mistaken notions of American exceptionalism.
Progress for the Poor (Oxford University Press, 2011).
Argues that in nations where the incomes of the least well-off have increased in recent decades, this has been due to an increase in government transfers as the economy grew.
"Americans’ Social Policy Preferences in an Era of Rising Inequality" (with Leslie McCall). Perspectives on Politics 7, no. 3 (2009): 459-484.
Argues that as income inequality has increased in the United States, Americans have expressed growing support for government efforts to boost opportunity.
Jobs with Equality (Oxford University Press, 2008).
Argues that there have been multiple paths to employment success in rich nations, rather than a single “optimal” set of policies and institutions.
Egalitarian Capitalism (Russell Sage Foundation, 2004).
Argues that institutions and policies that promote equality and fairness do not tend to damage a country's economic performance.
In Search of National Economic Success (Sage, 1995).
Argues that unimpeded markets, limited government, and weak unions are not the secret to a healthy economy.