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Growing Inequality: Laws of Nature or Laws of Men?

Stiglitz, Joseph E.

The question I will address in my talk is: Is this growing inequality a result of the laws of nature or the laws of man? Moreover, is it the result of the basic workings of the market, which is a particular institution for organizing our society and the economy? In other words, is growing inequality an inevitable, if unpleasant side effect of progress? Or is it the result of how we have structured markets, of how we have changed the rules of the game in our market economy, in some cases undermining the efficiency of the economy? Is it because there are some underlying forces creating more inequality and we just have not done enough to counter the forces? Or is it because rather than trying to stand against the tide, we have reinforced the effects of nature and we are creating more and more inequality? The central thesis of this lecture is that this growing inequality is largely the result of the laws of man, the result of how we structure the market economy and how we have restructured it in the last third of the century. With that in mind, I argue that inequality has been a choice and, of course, not a choice that we individually have made, but a choice that we collectively have made through our political system.

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Title
Starmus Beyond the Horizon: A Tribute to Stephen Hawking
Publisher
Starmus

More About This Work

Academic Units
Economics
Published Here
April 15, 2019

Notes

Originally speech at Starmus Festival 2016, Tenerife, Spain.

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