The Origins of Inequality, and Policies to Contain It

Stiglitz, Joseph E.

This paper critiques the notion that unfettered inequality is an inevitable consequence of contemporary capitalism, and provides an alternative, new framework for analyzing changes in income and wealth distribution. By thinking of these distributions as the result of changing centrifugal and centripetal economic and political forces, we can identify changes in our economic and social structure that may have played a central role in the creation of today’s high level of inequality, and we can analyze the potential impacts of alternative policies. Specifically, I suggest that much of the increase in inequality is associated with the growth in rents — including land and exploitation rents (e.g., arising from monopoly power and political influence).


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National Tax Journal

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February 5, 2019