Corporate market power touches virtually every facet of American life—from health care costs and access to grocery stores to our environment and the strength of our democratic institutions. Public benefits programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid, provide essential protections for workers and families from the harms of concentrated market power, including the prevalence of low-paid work. However, little attention has been paid to the complex relationships between public benefits and corporate market power. This working paper examines some of the relationships between corporate market power and public benefits and spotlights opportunities for further exploration of this emerging area of research.
Unrepayable Debt: How Economic, Racial, & Geographic Inequality Shape the Distribution of Parent PLUS Loans
Each year, millions of parents across the U.S seek to help their children pay for higher education using the only source of federal financial aid for parents: the Parent PLUS loan program. Despite offering an additional college financing option, Parent PLUS disproportionately distributes unrepayable debt by income level, race and ethnicity, geography, and higher education sector, burdening low-income parents with immense debt. This chartbook examines key features of Parent PLUS loan borrower experiences, finding that Parent PLUS burdens parents and students from low-income households, Black families, and students attending postsecondary institutions in the South. Understanding this uneven distribution of Parent PLUS debt is vital in order for policymakers, postsecondary administrators, and advocates to redesign the program and develop a more equitable higher education financing system for parents and students.
Market power and corporate consolidation have increased in recent decades, concentrating economic and political power among fewer corporations across the country. This report examines the implications of market power in the agricultural sector–particularly in crop production, animal production, and animal slaughtering. Market power, deeply intertwined with economic inequality and structural racism, contributes to low pay, dangerous working conditions, and other harms to workers of color.
Concentrated Power, Concentrated Harm: Market Power’s Role in Creating & Amplifying Racial & Economic Inequality
Market power exists when one or more companies can profitably set prices for goods, services, and wages; and determine the quality, accessibility, and availability of goods and services. Market power, intertwined with deeply entrenched structural racism and class inequality, can have life-or-death consequences. This report explores the real-world impact of market power on the lives of people of color and people with low incomes–as workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs–their communities, and society at large. The research shows that market power contributes to economic insecurity and hardship in low-income communities and communities of color, including by driving down wages and benefits; limiting and controlling the availability of goods, services, and jobs; and undermining American prosperity and democracy.