Inequality is one of our most urgent social problems. We all know the scale of the problem—talk about the 99% and the 1% is entrenched in public debate—but there has been little discussion of what we can do. There is a general sense of pessimism – that resolving the problem is out of our hands.
The aim of this Sussex Development Lecture is to present a coherent set of policies that could bring about a genuine shift in the distribution of income in developed countries. The problem is not simply that the rich are getting richer. We are also failing to tackle poverty, and the economy is changing to leave the majority of people behind. To reduce inequality, we have to go beyond placing new taxes on the wealthy to fund existing programmes.
The Lecture proposes ambitious new policies in a range of areas: technology, employment, social security, the sharing of capital, and taxation. It seeks to defend these proposals against the common arguments: that intervention will shrink the economy, that globalization makes action impossible, and that new policies cannot be afforded.
About the speaker
Sir Tony Atkinson is a Fellow of Nuffield College, of which he was Warden from 1994 to 2005. He is currently Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics. He has been President of the Royal Economic Society, of the Econometric Society, of the European Economic Association, and of the International Economic Association.
He has served on the Royal Commission on the Distribution of Income and Wealth, the Pension Law Review Committee, and the Commission on Social Justice. He has been a member of the Conseil d’Analyse Economique, advising the French Prime Minister, and of the European Statistics Governance Advisory Board, appointed by the EU Council of Ministers. He was knighted on 2001 for services to economics, and is a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. His most recent book is Public economics in an age of austerity, published in 2014.