Magazine December 17, 2020, Issue

Big Government’s Overlooked Americans

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A dearth of data has kept suffering hidden

Despite the information revolution, the Big Data explosion, and the advent of all-but-universal connectivity, American social policy is dogged by a huge knowledge gap. For years — sometimes decades — on end, acute social and economic troubles afflicting tens of millions of vulnerable Ameri­cans somehow manage to keep on hiding in plain sight. Consequently, America is subject to unexpected yet recurrent failures of the evidence-based policy-making upon which our modern welfare state prides itself. This troubling situation has far-reaching implications for the well-being of our countrymen and the health of our democracy — none of them positive.

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Nicholas Eberstadt — Mr. Eberstadt holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute and is the author of Men without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis.

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