Barry Bluestone is the Russell B. and Andrée B. Stearns Trustee Professor of Political Economy in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. He served as the founding director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy from 1999 to 2015, and the founding dean of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs from 2006 to 2012. Before assuming these posts, Bluestone spent twelve years at the University of Massachusetts at Boston as the Frank L. Boyden Professor of Political Economy and as a senior fellow at the university’s John W. McCormack Institute of Public Affairs. He was the founding director of UMass Boston’s Ph.D. program in public policy. Before coming to UMass in the fall of 1986, he taught economics at Boston College for fifteen years and was director of the college’s Social Welfare Research Institute. Professor Bluestone was raised in Detroit, Michigan and attended the University of Michigan, where he received his B.A., M.A. and finally his Ph.D. in economics in 1974.
At the Dukakis Center, Bluestone led research projects on housing, local economic development, state and local public finance, the manufacturing sector in Massachusetts, and an evaluation of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. He has been lead author on each of the fifteen editions of the annual Greater Boston Housing Report Card. At the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, he was the founder of the Open Classroom series, a graduate seminar on critical social issues open free to the public each semester. He was also part of the team that developed the school’s Master’s Program in Urban and Regional Policy (MURP).
As a political economist, Bluestone has written widely in the areas of income distribution, business and industrial policy, labor-management relations, higher education finance, and urban and regional economic development. He contributes regularly to academic, as well as popular journals, and is the author of eleven books. In 1982, he published The Deindustrialization of America (co-authored with the late Bennett Harrison) which analyzed the restructuring of American industry and its economic and social impact on workers and communities. A sequel published in 1988, The Great U-Turn: Corporate Restructuring and the Polarizing of America, also co-authored with Harrison, investigated how economic policies have contributed to growing inequality. In earlier books, Bluestone investigated the low-wage labor market, the aircraft industry, and the revolution in the retail trade sector. In 1992, Negotiating the Future: A Labor Perspective on American Business was published. Co-authored with his father, Irving Bluestone, the book traces the history of labor-management relations since World War II and offers the concept of the “Enterprise Compact” as an approach to industrial relations which can boost productivity, improve product quality and innovation, and enhance employment security. Korean, Spanish, and Japanese editions of this book have been published.
In 2000, Bluestone published two new books. The first of these, co-authored again with Harrison and titled Growing Prosperity: The Battle for Growth with Equity in the 21st Century, investigated the prospects for faster economic growth in the U.S. It was published by Houghton Mifflin and the Twentieth Century Fund. The second, The Boston Renaissance: Race, Space, and Economic Change in an American Metropolis, co-authored with Mary Huff Stevenson and published by the Russell Sage Foundation, was the culmination of nearly five years of research on the new Boston economy. It recounts the industrial and demographic revolution in post-World War II Boston and its impact on racial and ethnic attitudes, residential segregation, and the labor market success of whites, blacks, and Latinos.
Bluestone’s latest book, co-authored with Mary Huff Stevenson and Russell Williams, is a major textbook titled The Urban Experience: Economics, Society, and Public Policy. This work, rich in theory and applied policy, was written for an interdisciplinary audience and can be used at either the undergraduate or graduate level.
As part of his work, Bluestone spends a considerable amount of time consulting with trade unions, industry groups, and various federal and state government agencies. He was Executive Adviser to the Governor’s Commission on the Future of Mature Industries in Massachusetts and has worked with the economic development departments of various states. He has testified before Congressional committees and lectures regularly before university, labor, community, and business groups. He appears frequently on local and national radio. Bluestone is also a founding member of the Economic Policy Institute, along with Robert Reich, Lester Thurow, Robert Kuttner, Ray Marshall, and Jeff Faux. In 2006, he served on the transition team for Governor Deval Patrick.
He has served as a member of the advisory council to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development as well as the Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance. He served on the Governor’s Economic Development Strategy Council and continues as a board member of the Governor’s Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative. From 2007-2010, he served as a member of the Community Affairs Research Advisory Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. He is a past board member of the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater (WHAT) and a board member of the Lyric Stage of Boston, the Mistral Chamber Music group in Brookline, and the Payomet Performance Center in Truro, Massachusetts.
In his spare time, when he was younger, he competed in team triathlons as a bicycle racer — fortunately with a team otherwise comprised of orthopedic surgeons and an internist. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and was married to Mary Ellen Colten for nearly thirty years until her passing in 2017. Their son Joshua works in Chicago and after teaching English and Spanish in the Chicago Public School system now works in public housing projects on the city’s North Side.