• Charles W. Wessner
  • Thomas R. Howell
Part of the International Studies in Entrepreneurship book series (ISEN, volume 42)


In the past half century, fundamentally new technologies—microelectronics, digital computing and communications, biotechnology—have revolutionized human economic endeavor and everyday life, spawning entirely new industries, and, in the United States, bringing unprecedented prosperity to regions in which those industries have become concentrated. But the same era has coincided with the erosion or disappearance of vast swaths of the US manufacturing base, the displacement of millions of workers, and the economic decline of formerly prosperous regions. The epicenter of this phenomenon, the old industrial regions of the Northeast and Upper Midwest, long ago became known colloquially as the “Rust Belt.” In these hard-hit areas, the loss of manufacturing jobs has meant fewer opportunities that offer “good wages for workers who lack advanced education,” steeply declining population, and an array of social maladies including rising crime, broken families, substance abuse, and declining educational attainment. The disappearance of well-paying manufacturing jobs underlies much of the increase in income inequality that emerged during the latter half of the twentieth century. In the 2016 presidential election, the economic and social pain felt in these regions and the sense that they have been left behind moved to the center of the national political discussion.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles W. Wessner
    • 1
  • Thomas R. Howell
    • 2
  1. 1.Georgetown UniversityWashington, DCUSA
  2. 2.Dentons, LLPWashington, DCUSA

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