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What Counts as Good News?

The Census Bureau reported that median household income jumped 5.2% in 2015, and 3.5 million people rose out of poverty. The Washington Post called it “a spike that broke a years-long streak of disappointment for American workers.”

Bloomberg columnist Barry Ritholtz said that numbers showed that the recovery from the Great Recession is finally taking hold. “Unlike in recent years, when much of the gains went to an increasingly narrow group at the top of the economic strata, last year’s improvements were broad and deep.”

The New York Times noted the “eye-popping improvement in economic fortunes” but put it in context: “real incomes of most American households still are smaller than in the late 1990s. And large swaths of the country—rural America, industrial centers in the Rust Belt and Appalachia—are lagging behind.” A few days later, though, the Times said that a reported finding that incomes had actually fallen in rural areas was wrong, a result of a definitional change; incomes rose 3.4% in rural areas in 2015.

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Ulrike M. Malmendier
Associate Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley

Erin Meyer
Affiliate Professor of Organizational Behavior, INSEAD

David Cameron
Professor of Political Science & Director of EU Studies, Yale University


Professor Robert Shiller
Robert J. Shiller
Sterling Professor of Economics, Yale University


Shawn Heath
Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Duke Energy

Fernando Y. Roxas
Core Faculty, Asian Institute of Management

Denise Landry
Senior Vice President and Chief Quality Officer, Emergent BioSolutions