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

Quoted by Christy McClendon in "Arizona Must Close Its Opportunity Gap," Arizona Republic, July 11, 2016.
Quoted by Daniel Ben-Ami in "Do We Still Care about Social Inequality?," Financial Times, June 26, 2015.
Quoted by Eduardo Porter in "Big Mac Test Shows Job Market is Not Working to Distribute Wealth," New York Times, April 21, 2015.
Research discussed by Tim Worstall, in "Turning America into Sweden; Lane Kenworthy, Yes, But Add Some Scott Sumner," Forbes, October 8, 2014.
Research discussed by Yoohyun Jung, in "Fewer Tucson Children in Poverty, Census Finds," Arizona Daily Star, September 19, 2014.
Guest on Minnesota Public Radio, April 22, 2014.
Research discussed by Eduardo Porter, in "Income Equality: A Search for Consequences," New York Times, March 25, 2014.
Interviewed in "This Sociologist Has a Plan to Make America More Like Sweden," Washington Post, January 9, 2014.
Opinion: "Five Myths about the Middle Class," Lane Kenworthy, Washington Post, August 3, 2012.
Opinion: "Where Has the Rising Tide Lifted All Boats?," Lane Kenworthy, KPFA Radio, January 14, 2012.
Opinion: "What is Government Good For?’ and Related Topics," Lane Kenworthy, KAZM Radio, January 2, 2012.
Opinion: "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.