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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues

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As the pandemic forced shutdowns across the globe, U.S. government entities at the federal, state and local levels worked swiftly to secure known drivers of economic growth and job creation – including entrepreneurial ecosystems and small businesses. And while the programs implemented were widely lauded as successful, the story of who benefitted – and who did not – is more complex. This week’s Kenan Insight explores our experts’ key findings around the roles of policy and implementation in supporting equal access to opportunity.

While economists have long theorized that wealthier individuals may purchase less life and property insurance because they can rely on their savings if something unexpected happens, a new study of more than 63,000 people shows that, in practice, quite the opposite is true. This week’s Kenan Insight offers a chance for our experts to explore the findings of their new study, which suggest disparities in insurance coverage could help explain and exacerbate existing financial inequalities.

Join UNC and 100 Black Angels & Allies for an evening of fun, connection and learning. If you have been reading about the full Black Technology Ecosystem Investors (BTEI) Certificate Program and are curious about whether it’s right for you, this is an event you won’t want to miss! You will hear from both practiced investors and everyday people who want to steer their investment towards Black-founded companies and venture funds. We’ll take a deeper look at what topics are included in the BTEI course, what a typical session might look like and what becoming BTEI certified might mean for you personally.

UNC Kenan-Flagler Professor of Finance Paige Ouimet was recently interviewed by The Atlantic on the ramifications of a 2019 Colorado labor law requiring all companies to include salary details in job postings. The law, which was intended to ensure women and underrepresented minorities don’t lowball themselves when negotiating salaries, has been met with a surprising amount of resistance from business – with a number of top U.S. companies now hiring remote workers everywhere but Colorado.

Entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds face a variety of challenges in accessing resources, expertise and funding. Hear experts from our 2021 Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Conference discuss persistent issues and promising solutions for creating vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems.

While the COVID-19 pandemic was devastating for many, research shows its impact was not felt equally. Black Americans experienced disproportionate health and economic ramifications, which compounded the financial, social and psychological strain many felt pre-pandemic, and have contributed to growing inter-generational wealth disparities. In today’s Kenan Insight, our experts explore whether the multi-trillion dollar “Build Back Better” plan proposed by the Biden administration holds the potential to begin closing pervasive gaps in American society.

The COVID-19 pandemic increased economic inequities in a number of ways, including in access to external capital – and while 2020 marked a break-out year for venture-backed firms, the pandemic hit many main street businesses hard. In this Kenan Insight, we explore the forces driving the haves and have-nots in this new economic climate, as well as actionable policy solutions as government support programs wind down.

As the U.S. economy begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and businesses grapple with ongoing labor shortages, the debate around increasing the federal minimum wage – which hasn’t budged in over a decade – has returned to the fore. In this Kenan Insight, we examine whether now is the right time to raise the standard minimum, why these benefits may come at a cost, and what approach might work best given the inevitable tradeoffs.

While technological advances have traditionally been a boon to the U.S. economy, the rapid rise of new platforms and the increased financialization of the economy in recent years have encouraged the growth of monopolies—driving an ever-widening geographic gap in the distribution of income across the country. New research from the Kenan Institute’s Professor Maryann Feldman explores the ramifications of this growing divide.

The current narrative around the U.S. labor market is a mixed bag, with unemployment numbers well above pre-pandemic rates while many companies struggle to fill jobs. In this Kenan Insight Q&A, three experts weigh in on the critical issues behind this dichotomy.

Are the agglomeration economies of technology hubs augmented by a localized market for start-ups – acquisitions, and IPOs? How does this affect the ability of places outside of those hubs to foster digital startups as a tool of local economic development? We study this with a particular focus on acquisitions by the seven largest American digital platforms – Amazon, Alphabet [Google], Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Oracle and Adobe, which we call, collectively, Big Tech. We cover the years 2001-2020. We show that firms acquired by Big Tech are, disproportionately to the sectors in which they operate, concentrated in major tech clusters, and particularly in the Silicon Valley (San Francisco/San Jose). We argue that the acquisition market – and its effects on both the major tech hubs and the left behind rest – depends crucially on the proprietary control of access to various digital network products. Regulation of these markets, particularly in the form of common carrier status and open standards, could achieve a considerable re-balancing.

Much has been written about the disproportionate number of women who have suffered pandemic-related job losses during COVID-19, but a related consequence has not been as well explored: the serious disruption of women’s careers, particularly in fields in which “path dependence” matters for success. In this Kenan Insight, we examine this more subtle asymmetry in the pandemic’s impact as indicative of far broader issues for women’s advancement in the workplace.