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Jacob S. Hacker

Keynote Speaker at the Academy's 21st Annual Conference

An innovative voice in the contemporary discourse on American social policy comes from Jacob S. Hacker, professor of political science at the University of California at Berkeley. In his keynote opening address “Sharing Risk in the New Era of Responsibility” at the Academy's conference on January 29, he observed:

“There has always been a progressive alternative to the conservative vision of the ownership society. It was embodied in the response of the government after World War II to the return of millions of servicemen who had helped their nation at a time of crisis – in the GI bill and the creation of our modern middle class. A key element of this development was an emphasis on broad distribution of wealth and financial democracy. We need to reclaim that. The enemy is not the idea that people should own many of the key sources of security. The enemy is the idea that you're on your own in dealing with economic security. … In return for rescuing capitalism once again from itself, progressives should demand that capitalism work for ordinary Americans.”

In addition to serving as professor of Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley, as well as Co-Director of the Center for Health, Economic, and Family Security at Berkeley Law. Formerly, he was a professor at Yale University. He is also a Fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C., and a former Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows.

His most recent books are The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream (2006; expanded 2008) and Off Center (with Paul Pierson, 2006). He is widely published in scholarly journals, including the American Political Science Review, the British Journal of Political Science, and Perspectives on Politics, as well as in popular outlets, such as the New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and The Washington Post. He has edited two volumes—most recently, Health At Risk: America's Ailing Health System—and How to Heal It (2008)—and is the author of a 2007 proposal for universal health care reform, "Health Care for America," that has shaped the national debate over reform. His dissertation, “Boundary Wars: The Political Struggle over Public and Private Social Benefits in the United States,” won the 2002 Academy John Heinz Dissertation Award. Hacker was co-chair of the Academy's 2007 conference, “For the Common Good: What Role for Social Insurance?”

A member of the National Academy of Social Insurance since 2004, Hacker now serves on its board of directors. He graduated summa cum laude in 1994 from Harvard with a B.A. in Social Studies, and he received his Ph.D. in political science from Yale University. Hacker grew up in Eugene, Oregon, and now lives in Berkeley, California with his family.

Click here to view the full version Jacob Hacker's keynote address.