The Winner-Take-All Society: Why the Few at the Top Get So Much More Than the Rest of Us

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Disney chairman Michael Eisner topped the 1993 Business Week chart of America's highest-paid executives, his $203 million in earnings roughly 10,000 times that of the lowest paid Disney employee.

During the last two decades, the top one percent of U.S. earners captured more than 40 percent of the country's total earnings growth, one of the largest shifts any society has endured without a revolution or military defeat. Robert H. Frank and Philip J. Cook argue that behind this shift lies the spread of "winner-take-all markets"—markets in which small differences in performance give rise to enormous differences in reward. Long familiar in sports and entertainment, this payoff pattern has increasingly permeated law, finance, fashion, publishing, and other fields. The result: in addition to the growing gap between rich and poor, we see important professions like teaching and engineering in aching need of more talent. This relentless emphasis on coming out on top—the best-selling book, the blockbuster film, the Super Bowl winner—has molded our discourse in ways that many find deeply troubling.

In this pathbreaking book, the subject of considerable pre-publication, two distinguished economists draw attention to an important and disturbing new trend that has dramatically transformed our economy in the last two decades: the spread of "winner-take-all" markets, where marginal differences in performance translate into huge differences in reward.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A major contribution to the debate about causes and consequences of inequality in America"
—The New York Times Book Review.

"Should be at the forefront of everyone's attention"
—Lester C. Thurow, Los Angeles Times

"Frank and Cook break new ground by linking the win-at-all costs mentality to economic and cultural problems."
Business Week

"A fun, informative, and provocative read"
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140259957
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/1996
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,517,425
  • Product dimensions: 5.64 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Table of Contents

The Winner-Take-All Society - Robert H. Frank and Philip J. Cook Preface
1. Winner-Take-All Marekts
2. How Winner-Take-All Markets Arise
3. The Growth of Winner-Take-All Markets
4. Runaway Incomes at the Top
5. Minor-League Superstars
6. Too Many Contestants?
7. The Problem of Wasteful Investment
8. The Battle for Educational Prestige
9. Curbing Wasteful Competition
10. Media and Culture in the Winner-Take-All Society
11. Old Wine in New Bottles

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