May 28, 2007

· Economics · Sociology

Last weekend I read Prophet of Innovation, Thomas McGraw’s biography of Joseph Schumpeter. Maybe more on that later: I need to write something about it before I forget the content. Somewhere in there McGraw quotes Schumpeter’s line that “the budget is the skeleton of the state, stripped of all misleading ideologies.” With that in mind, here’s a kind of X-ray of California’s state budget, via Chris Uggen.

Prison and Education Spending trends in California

This is from a SF Chronicle article on these trends, which look set to continue.

Over the past few years, sociologists Bruce Western and Becky Pettit have shown that incarceration has become a standard feature of the life-course for certain segments of society, especially young, unskilled black men. A paper by Pettit and Western provides some estimates, notably the astonishing finding that in the cohort born between 1965 and 1969, thirty percent of black men without a college education—and sixty percent of black men without a high school degree—had been incarcerated by 1999. Recent cohorts of black men “are more likely to have prison records (22.4 percent) than military records (17.4 percent) or bachelor’s degrees (12.5 percent).” Western develops the argument at greater length in a recent book, Punishment And Inequality in America, which you should really go and buy. As these shifts show up in the social patterning of individual biographies, so too will they be reflected in the Schumpeterian skeleton of the state budget.

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I am Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center. Learn more.

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