NCPA Economic Policy Forum & Author Series
In his new book, COMING APART: The State of White America, 1960-2010, Charles Murray argues that American classes have reached a level of separation unlike anything we have ever known before. Murray first takes on what he calls the new upper class: highly educated, successful, affluent, and increasingly isolated from, and ignorant about, the rest of America. Using data from 1960 and 2000 censuses, he demonstrates the emergence of spatial isolation that has no parallel in American history, with the new upper class concentrated in what he called "SuperZips" clustered around a few centers of national power.
Murray cites American trends regarding marriage, religion, honesty, and industriousness for the fifty years from 1960 to 2010. Murray limits the data to non-Latino whites, showing wide gaps that have opened up in behaviors that once united Americans across classes.
A startling long-lens view, COMING APART reveals the ways in which America is coming apart at the seams that once stitched us together. Murray evokes the civic culture that was so widely shared among Americans that it amounted to a civil religion. "To be American was to be different from other nationalities, in ways that Americans treasured. That culture is unraveling: Murray forces us to look unblinkingly at the nature of the problem because, as he argues, the price of turning a blind eye is the end to what has made America America.
Charles Murray is a political scientist, author, and libertarian. Murray was named by the National Journal as one of the 50 "People Who Make a Difference" in national policy-making. When U.S. News and World Report published its cover story on "The New American Establishment," Murray was chosen as one of thirty-two men and women who define the contemporary intellectual debate on social policy. A Newsweek cover article picked Murray as one of a hundred Americans who lead their fields.
In addition to his books and articles in technical journals, Murray has published extensively in The New Republic, Commentary, The Public Interest, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, National Review, and the Washington Post. He has been a frequent witness before congressional and senate committees and a consultant to senior government officials of the United States, the United Kingdom, Eastern Europe, and the OECD.
Murray first came to national attention in 1984 with the publication of Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950–1980 (Basic Books, 1984), which has been credited as the intellectual foundation for the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. His 1994 New York Times bestseller, The Bell Curve (Free Press, 1994), coauthored with the late Richard J. Herrnstein, sparked heated controversy for its analysis of the role of IQ in shaping America’s class structure. Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality (Crown Forum, 2008), provides a framework for rethinking what parents should demand from an educational system.