The Citizen's Share Reducing Inequality in the 21st Century Joseph R. Blasi, Richard B. Freeman, Douglas L. Kruse

Publication date:
24 Jun 2014
Yale University Press
320 pages: 235 x 156mm
4 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

A compelling argument for broad-based profit sharing and employee ownership in keeping with the economic vision of America’s Founders

The idea of workers owning the businesses where they work is not new.  In America’s early years, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison believed that the best economic plan for the Republic was for citizens to have some ownership stake in the land, which was the main form of productive capital. This book traces the development of that share idea in American history and brings its message to today's economy, where business capital has replaced land as the source of wealth creation.
Based on a ten-year study of profit sharing and employee ownership at small and large corporations, this important and insightful work makes the case that the Founders’ original vision of sharing ownership and profits offers a viable path toward restoring the middle class. Blasi, Freeman, and Kruse show that an ownership stake in a corporation inspires and increases worker loyalty, productivity, and innovation. Their book offers history-, economics-, and evidence-based policy ideas at their best.

Joseph R. Blasi, J. Robert Beyster Professor and sociologist, and Douglas L. Kruse, professor and economist, are both at the School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University. Richard B. Freeman is Herbert Ascherman Professor of Economics at Harvard University.

“America used to be based on broad access to wealth and property. If you want to know more about this tradition, and how to revive it, read this book.”—Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century

“Citizens should know about The Citizen’s Share--it’s important. And there is no better trio than Blasi, Freeman, and Kruse to tell them about it.”--Alan Blinder, Princeton University

“The proposal . . . stands apart from alternate policy initiatives . . . because it addresses the concentration of wealth and political power at the top. The idea of expanding employee ownership deserves serious consideration.”—Thomas B. Edsall, New York Times

“The founders . . . agreed that America would survive and thrive only if there was widespread ownership of land and businesses.  Professor Joseph R. Blasi and Douglas L. Kruse of Rutgers and Richard B. Freeman of Harvard gathered many of the founders’ writings on this topic for their book . . . Copies are currently circulating among congressional staffs in both parties as politicians brace themselves to face what polls show is a rapidly rising concern over economic growth concentrating at the top.”—David Cay Johnston, Newsweek

"The Citizen's Share provides a thoughtful . . . analysis of the benefits of encouraging greater employee ownership of businesses . . . In seeking to increase employee compensation as well as tax reform, Washington should be thinking hard about how to expand and encourage greater employee ownership and/or revenue sharing."—Dean Zerbe, Forbes Magazine

“This provocative study exposes a long-lost history of successful profit-sharing within U.S. capitalism.  Good business (not conscience), the authors argue, holds the promise of a more equal and therefore more democratically organized society. This is an optimistic, but eminently plausible scenario.”—Alice Kessler-Harris, author of In Pursuit of Equity: Women, Men and the Quest for Economic Citizenship in Twentieth Century America

“A model of sober scholarly analysis and impassioned political advocacy. . . . Here is a book on economic policy that might make the Founding Fathers smile”—Jonathan I. Levy, author of Freaks of Fortune: The Emerging World of Capitalism and Risk in America.

An accessible, and informative, story of government and business support for worker ownership . . . . Spotlights an important area of American economic history."—Library Journal

“This book offers the compelling vision of a better healthier American economy founded on the basic principles of employee ownership and profit sharing.  The deep-rooted history of this American vision is elegantly interwoven with the results of modern rigorous research.  The Citizen’s Share is a wonderfully readable book with an important message that will provoke serious thought and discussion.” —Martin L. Weitzman, Professor of Economics, Harvard University.

“A few years ago, Blasi, Kruse, and Freeman caught people’s attention with an intriguing thesis: that a company performs better when owned by its workers . In this book, the authors go a step further. They make the interesting and provocative claim that worker ownership also improves democracy. Readers may disagree with the conclusion, but they will want to understand the argument.” —Eric S. Maskin, Nobel laureate in Economics, Harvard University

“There is a depressing familiarity about much of the discussion on what to do about America’s widening income inequality. Some remedies are uncontroversial but hard-to-achieve (such as improving education); others are the subject of furious argument (such as more progressive taxation). Debate is heated, but within a fairly narrow set of potential solutions. Once in a while, though, more creative proposals are added to the mix. . . . The Citizen’s Share is one of those. The authors show, convincingly, that the logic of citizen capitalism has periodically motivated American politics and business since the Founding Fathers.”—The Economist

“The American worker isn’t doing so well. . . . Joseph Blasi, Douglas Kruse, and Richard Freeman offer a novel solution. . . . The impulse toward broadly extending property ownership is one that has a long history in America. . . . [E]xpanding employee ownership could be a solution to the problems of stagnating worker compensation and rising income inequality.”—Christopher Matthews, Time Magazine

“Based on a series of national surveys, the authors reckon that some 47% of full-time workers have one or more forms of capital stake in the firm for which they work, whether from profit-sharing schemes (40%), stock ownership (21%) or stock options (10%). About a tenth of Fortune 500 companies, from Procter & Gamble to Goldman Sachs, have employee shareholdings of 5% or more. Almost a fifth of America’s biggest private firms . . . have profit-sharing or share-ownership schemes. Some 10 million people work for companies with ESOPs.”—Brad DeLong, University of California, Berkeley, and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth

"This important book demonstrates conclusively that employee ownership can be an effective business model, resulting in efficient outcomes."—Jonathan Michie, President, Kellogg College, University of Oxford

“Based on comprehensive data and painstaking historical research, The Citizen's Share provides a superb overview of employee ownership in the United States. At a moment when economic inequality has reached an apogee and trust in corporations a nadir, when the employment relationship has frayed in companies across the U.S., and American industry faces challenges from around the globe, the authors' message could not be more important.”—Viviana A. Zelizer, author of Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy

The Citizen’s Share is a must-read for current and future business leaders as well as policymakers who believe all American’s are entitled to participate in a healthy and growing U.S. economy. This insightful tapestry of history, economics and psychology begins by telling the story that our country was founded with the right for all citizens to ownership and ends with 10 non-partisan policy recommendations that will ensure ownership is a right for all, not just the 1%.”—Carine M. Schneider, Chairman of the Board, Global Equity Organization

“Rutgers management professors Joseph Blasi and Douglas Kruse and Harvard economics professor Richard Freeman wrote The Citizen’s Share. . . . They argued that worker ownership had a long history in the American economy and a long history of bipartisan and cross-ideological support. . . . One proposal to implement [their] strategy would be to have state and federal governments link corporate tax rates to the extent of the companies’ profit sharing: The more that’s shared, the lower the rate.”—Harold Meyerson, The American Prospect

"The Citizens Share demonstrates that employee ownership is as American as apple pie. Let’s put it to use to improve our lives and strengthen our democracy. The authors do a superb job of showing the way to do so."--Thomas A. Kochan, Co-Director, MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research

“George Washington liked the basic idea, as did Thomas Jefferson. We should build on our rich national tradition of support for widespread asset ownership. Joseph Blasi, Richard Freeman and Douglas Kruse develop this proposition in a new book, The Citizen’s Share, which lends historical perspective to their empirical research on shared capitalism.”—Nancy Folbre, Economix, The New York Times

“Employee ownership—profit sharing, stock sharing and other employee-ownership plans—can increase your workers’ productivity and innovation. Research shows that workers at companies with employee ownership plans work harder, are more creative and more loyal. That translates into better company performance. ‘The impacts are larger when the programs are larger, as in many closely held ESOP companies and some model publicly traded companies,’ say Rutgers professors Joseph Blasi and Douglas Kruse and Harvard economist Richard Freeman, in their new book The Citizen’s Share.”—Michael Kling, Entrepreneur Magazine

“One of the big frustrations about income inequality is that when corporate profits grow, they aren’t shared equally–typical employees sees very little from it, while the people at the top, and big investors, reap most of the rewards. . . . One solution? Give average workers direct ownership in the company and its profits. . . . [A] new book called The Citizen’s Share advocates government tax incentives to encourage companies to introduce profit-sharing and stock-ownership programs for their employees, or expand the programs they already have. . . . The authors argue that increased ownership and a share in profits may be the key to reviving the American middle class.”—David Parkinson, Economy Lab, Toronto Globe and Mail

“Three professors would rather see income flowing into the hands of the many, and they’ve written a book to point the way. . . . ‘The outstanding faults of the economic society in which we live are its failure to provide for full employment and its arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and incomes.’ Keynes wrote those words about England in 1936. To deal with the same faults, America needs more ‘citizen’s shares’ in 2014.”—Gerald E. Scorse, Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel

“[A] thought-provoking addiction to the literature, given the current debates on economic inequality.”—Choice

"Important and insightful. . . . Offers history-, economics-, and evidenced-based policy ideas at their best."—Politico