The story of inequality
between 1911 and 1950, inequality of income actually declined slightly, reaching its most equal point (still pretty unequal) in the years immediately after WW2. But from the 1980s it rose sharply. Interestingly, the largest rise in inequality in the UK was in the 1980s during the Thatcher years, when the gini ratio rose a staggering 10% points, briefly exceeding the US by the early 1990s. The other shocker was the rise in inequality in social democratic Sweden, which now no longer has a more equal society, at least as measured by disposable household income. In contrast, inequality of income in France fell a little during the same period.
The 15th conference of the Association of Heterodox Economists took place last week. The keynote theme of this gathering of economists who are not of the mainstream was inequality. The world’s greatest economic expert on inequality of wealth and income is Tony Atkinson, or should I say, Sir Anthony Atkinson. Atkinson is senior research fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford and a distinguished econometrician.
Atkinson’s address was entitled “Where is inequality headed?”. Inequality is back on the economic agenda after being ignored for decades by mainstream economics. But official spokespeople and mainstream economists everywhere are now looking at the subject, after the financial crash and the revelation that the top 1% (bankers and top corporate executives) have been stacking up their ‘earnings’ while the 99% have been stuck with unmoving real incomes for years.
Atkinson was careful to define inequality for his purposes: namely inequality of income within a country, not…
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