Read an excerpt on Salon

Hollowed Out

Why The Economy Doesn't Work

Without A Strong Middle Class

​​​For the past several decades, politicians and economists thought that high levels of inequality were good for the economy. But because the middle class is now so weak, America’s economy suffers from the kinds of problems that plague less-developed countries. Privileged elites more frequently secure special treatment from a government that wastes money and stifles competition. Children’s opportunities are excessively determined by the wealth of their parents. Societal distrust has increased, making business transactions needlessly difficult. Consumer demand has weakened and become unstable, which helped fuel the Great Recession and has made the recovery painfully slow. 


As Hollowed Out explains, to have strong and sustainable growth, the economy needs to work for everyone and grow from the middle out. This new thinking has the potential to supplant trickle-down economics -- the theory that was so wrong about inequality and our economy -- and shape economic policymaking for generations.


​Hollowed Out builds upon the path-breaking article David Madland wrote for the journal Democracy in 2011 that, as Michael Tomasky noted in the Daily Beast, was one of the very first pieces about middle-out economics and has been instrumental in turning the tide against trickle-down economics.

Praise for Hollowed Out


"When will we learn that an economy that just works for the wealthy just doesn't work? David Madland, one of the nation's wisest young scholars, explains with clarity and eloquence why trickle down economics can't keep its promise of rapid growth -- and why a more just economy will provide better results for everyone. This is a truly important book that should shape our debate for many years to come."  

  E. J. Dionne Jr., Senior fellow, Brookings Institution, University Professor, Georgetown's McCourt School of Public Policy, Author, "Our Divided Political Heart"​


"David Madland marshals reams of data, economic analysis, and social science to make a deeply persuasive case for middle-class economics—not only as a means of achieving sustainable, equitable economic growth, but as the absolutely crucial foundation of American society. Hollowed Out patiently walks through the factors leading to the recent decline in middle-class incomes and stability—and, crucially, shows how to get the economy back on the right track."
  John Podesta, former Counselor to President Obama and former Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton

"Trickle down economics is the biggest economic lie ever told, and David Madland expertly and authoritatively shows us why.  Meticulously researched and thoughtfully argued, Hollowed Out explains in plain language why growth and prosperity are always built from the middle out, not the top down.  This should be required reading for economic policy makers."
  Nick Hanauer, Seattle-based entrepreneur who has helped launch more than 20 companies, including aQuantive Inc. and Amazon.com

"The dose is the difference between medicine and poison in economics as in health care.  Hollowed Out makes the case that US inequality has gone beyond supply-sider's medicine for growth to poisoning our economy via loss of trust, political polarization, debt-driven consumer demand, and self-perpetuating aristocracy of wealth. Every member of Congress should read this before voting on the next tax cut for the wealthy."
  Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics, Harvard University 

​"Ideas are a powerful force in politics, and David Madland develops a very big and important one.  Madland shows that the hollowing out of the American middle class has deeply damaged our economy and in order to get back on track we need to make the economy work for everyone, not just the rich. Hollowed Out provides an important road map for anyone who wants to understand what is wrong with our economy and what needs to be done to fix it."  
  Neera Tanden, President, Center for American Progress


​“A dramatic and clearly delineated outline” of the coming fight between trickle-down and middle-class economics. 
   Kirkus Review   

David discusses Hollowed Out