Jacob Hacker. Photo credit: Dale Robbins
Photo: Dale Robbins

Jacob Hacker

Political Scientist

Political scientist Jacob S. Hacker has devoted his career to researching and evaluating economic inequality, healthcare and social policy.  Currently at Yale, Hacker is the director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies and the Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science.  He is the co-author of the 2010 book that examines economic inequality in the United States titled Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, written with Paul Pierson, professor of political science at the University of California at Berkeley.  Bob Herbert of the New York Times called Winner-Take-All “the clearest explanation yet of the forces that converged over the past three decades or so to undermine the economic well-being of ordinary Americans.”

Hacker has testified before Congress on the increasingly perilous economic condition of the American middle class and has written other books on these subjects including The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream (2006), The Divided Welfare State: The Battle over Public and Private Social Benefits in the United States (2002), and Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy (2005), which he also co-authored with Paul Pierson.  He leads the Privatization of Risk Project at the Social Science Research Council, a project that develops policy solutions to counter the effects of privatization that has “shifted the burden of risk from the government and institutions to individuals and families.”

Along with a group of multi-disciplinary researchers and support from the Rockefeller Foundation, Hacker developed the Economic Security Index (ESI), an economic indicator that measures the economic security of Americans over time, tracking elements such as a major loss in income, large out-of-pocket medical expenses, and the lack of an adequate financial safety net to deal with the first two risks.  Results published in a 2011 report state that more than one in five Americans faces economic insecurity.

Often described as the “father of the public option” Hacker is also an expert on healthcare policy and wrote the report for the Economic Policy Institute, Health Care for America, that became a guide for presidential candidates in the 2008 election.  His book, The Road to Nowhere: The Genesis of President Clinton’s Plan for Health Security (1997), a review of healthcare reform efforts in the 1990s, was co-winner of the Brownlow Book Award of the National Academy of Public Administration.  He frequently appears in the media to discuss his work and has written articles for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, American Prospect and the Nation, among others.  He received his B.A. from Harvard and his Ph.D. from Yale.