Edward L. Glaeser addresses the challenges of convincing skeptical millennials and younger Americans about the merits of capitalism in the Manhattan Institute’s 2018 James Q. Wilson lecture. Young people in the United States are moving steadily to the left. A recent Harvard University poll found that 51 percent of Americans between ages 18 and 29 don’t support capitalism. The trend is visible on the ground, too. Phenomena driven largely by millennials—such as Occupy Wall Street, the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, and, more recently, the wave of Democratic Socialist candidates for state and federal ofﬁce–are all signs of an intellectual shift among the young. Video of this lecture can be found at the Manhattan Institute website. Edward L. Glaeser is the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard University (where he has taught since 1992), a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and a contributing editor of City Journal.
“On hyper-local issues, however, upstairs-downstairs divides can become acute—and the symbolic positions that feel good on a national level can turn into real-world decisions that impact people’s lives. Most voters in liberal cities have seen these fights: Upscale parents in Democratic neighborhoods whose liberalism vanishes when it comes to bringing in students from poorer neighborhoods (as on Manhattan’s Upper West Side) or pooling PTA funds between richer and poorer schools (as in Santa Monica, California). This is even more common in the area of housing, and in particular affordable housing, where well-off liberals tend to lose interest in “affordability” the minute it threatens to change their neighborhoods or dent their real-estate values.”