Discrimination and Disparities

You can measure any two things. In all probability, they will be different. If you have an agenda, you can call that difference a “disparity” or a “gap.” Thus, the difference between average white incomes and average black incomes is a “disparity,” but the difference between white incomes and Asian-American incomes, which on average are considerably higher, is not a “gap” that calls out for a remedy.

This is the profoundly dishonest landscape that Thomas Sowell takes on in his just-published book, Discrimination and Disparities. Here is the publisher’s description:

Economic and other outcomes differ vastly among individuals, groups, and nations. Many explanations have been offered for the differences. Some believe that those with less fortunate outcomes are victims of genetics. Others believe that those who are less fortunate are victims of the more fortunate.

Discrimination and Disparities gathers a wide array of empirical evidence from to challenge the idea that different economic outcomes can be explained by any one factor, be it discrimination, exploitation or genetics.

It is readable enough for people with no prior knowledge of economics. Yet the empirical evidence with which it backs up its analysis spans the globe and challenges beliefs across the ideological spectrum.

The point of Discrimination and Disparities is not to recommend some particular policy “fix” at the end, but to clarify why so many policy fixes have turned out to be counterproductive, and to expose some seemingly invincible fallacies–behind many counterproductive policies.

Everything Dr. Sowell writes is worth reading, but this book couldn’t be more timely. If there is any topic that needs a strong dose of empirical data and common sense, it is this one.


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