The Dynamics of Social Inequities in the Present World

By Joseph Stiglitz |

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It is apparent that not only are there high levels of inequalities within most countries, but those inequalities have been growing over time. They are much larger today that they were a third of a century ago. It is also clear that there is far from equal opportunity: the life prospects of children of rich and well-educated parents are far better than those with poor and less well-educated parents.

In this essay, I discuss the dynamics of social inequalities at three levels—the global macro, at the forces shaping the dynamics of the distribution of income across countries; the country-macro, at the forces shaping the dynamics of the distribution of income within a country; and at the micro—the forces shaping the dynamics of individuals’ opportunities.

Joseph E. Stiglitz is Senior Fellow and Chief Economist at the Roosevelt Institute and a professor at Columbia University. A recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001) and the John Bates Clark Medal (1979), he is a former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and a former member and chairman of the (US president’s) Council of Economic Advisers.