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research in brief

AN AWARD-WINNING LOOK AT GLOBAL LABOR RELATIONS With his newest book, Dr. Duane Swank, professor of political science, waded into controversial waters, examining if a decline in unions and government protections for the poor is an inevitable result of an increasingly globalized economy. And what Swank and co-author Dr. Cathie Jo Martin of Boston University found is quite surprising. Their book, The Political Construction of Business Interests: Coordination, Growth, and Equality, shows that in Nordic and Benelux countries like Denmark or Belgium, which have multiparty systems, business leaders inevitably organize on a national basis to help put together a majority coalition and maximize their political power. These national business groups are then more likely to cooperate with national labor representatives and support union contracts, programs to retrain workers, unemployment benefits and other safety net programs. By contrast, in Anglo countries like the United States or England, with a twoparty system, business groups are decentralized, are competitive with each other and don’t work cooperatively with national labor groups. As a result, a country like Denmark spends three times more on programs for workers than the U.S., where labor market spending is expressed as a percent of Gross Domestic Product. The authors did an in-depth statistical analysis contrasting different countries and found “troves of evidence in archival material” going back more than a century to back up this theory, Swank notes. Swank worked for 10 years on the book, which won the prestigious 2013 J. David Greenstone Award from the American Political Science Association. BRUCE MURPHY

Mortgage deduction a myth for mosT Amer icans One of the largest expenditures in the U.S. tax code, the mortgage interest deduction is often thought to be a lure toward homeownership. But for the majority of Americans, it’s merely a mirage, according to research by Dr. Andrew Hanson, assistant professor of economics. In research commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trusts, Hanson demonstrated that less than a third of taxpayers actually benefit from the deduction and most of the benefit is skewed to those who earn more than $100,000 per year and live on the coasts. “The two greatest misconceptions about the mortgage interest deduction are that many people believe they benefit from it and that it promotes homeownership,” Hanson says. In Milwaukee and Chicago, only about 24 percent of taxpayers who earn less than $100,000 receive any benefit from the deduction while 78 percent of those who earn more than $100,000 get a benefit. “This simply doesn’t promote homeownership,” Hanson says. “Those who benefit from the deduction are not deciding between renting and owning — they’re deciding between a large home and an even larger home.” CHRISTOPHER STOLARSKI

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marquette university discover magazine 2014

Discover Research 2014  

Every spring DISCOVER: Marquette University Research and Scholarship showcases some of the most interesting research happening on Marquette'...