Honors Theses


William Trollinger, Ph.D.



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Honors Thesis


Since 1973, wage and income inequality has increased dramatically in the United States. Workers who entered the labor market after the 1970s did not experience the same level of economic security as workers in the 1950s and 1960s during the “Golden Age of Capitalism.” Jobs paid relatively lower wages, there was less opportunity for collective bargaining, and fewer jobs offered healthcare coverage and pensions. When earnings increased after 1973, the gains disproportionately accrued to the top earners of the income distribution while workers at the bottom experienced stagnant and declining real incomes. What economic factors during the 1970s created a distinct shift towards rising income inequality? Lacking consensus among scholars, this work historiographically analyzes various explanations put forth by economic historians and labor economists regarding the origins of income inequality in the United States.

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