By DAVID LEONHARDT
JANUARY 15, 2015
After almost 15 years of a disappointing economy, it’s easy to get pessimistic. Incomes for the middle class and poor have now been stagnating over a two-term Republican presidency and well into a two-term Democratic one. The great wage slowdown of the 21st century has frustrated Americans, polls show, and raised serious questions about what kind of policies, if any, might change the situation.
Yet if you look around the world, you can find reasons for hope.
While wages and incomes have stagnated in the United States (as well as in Japan and large parts of Europe), they have not done so everywhere. In Canada, a broad measure of incomes has risen about 10 percent since 2000, even as it’s fallen here. In Australia, it’s up 30 percent.
These aren’t just any countries, either. They’re among those most similar to the United States: far-flung, once ruled by Britain, with a frontier culture and a commitment to capitalism. Though Australia and Canada obviously are not identical to the United States, it certainly seems worth asking what they’re doing differently.
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