Kevin Lansing, Agnieszka Markiewicz, 21 April 2018

The increase in US income inequality since 1970 largely reflects gains made by households in the top 20% of the income distribution. The framework presented in this column shows that households outside of this group have suffered significant losses from forgone consumption, measured relative to a scenario that holds inequality constant. A substantial mitigating factor for these losses has been the dramatic rise in government redistributive transfers, which have doubled as a share of US output over the same period.

Thomas Piketty, 10 April 2018

Wealth inequality is a growing problem across advanced and developing countries alike. Though research on inequality is growing, much of it remains reliant on theoretical models. Thomas Piketty discusses the importance of data collection in the study of inequality, on both the academic and policy fronts.

Jonas Kolsrud, Camille Landais, Johannes Spinnewijn, 04 April 2018

Household consumption is central to economic and welfare analysis, but it remains difficult to fully measure at an empirical level. Using evidence from Sweden, this column argues the case for using registry-based data to estimate consumption expenditures, particularly at the tails of income distributions. It also argues that previous suggestions that recent rises in income inequality haven’t been matched by rises in consumption inequality may be misguided.

Philippe Aghion, 27 March 2018

Many economists argue that fixing inequality should not come at the expense of innovation. Philippe Aghion discusses the role innovation has to play in fostering growth and social mobility. This video was recorded at the RES annual conference in Spring 2015.

David Miles, 23 March 2018

The housing market faces major challenges in both the short and long run in terms of affordability, price variability, ownership structures, financing, and their impacts upon wider macroeconomic stability. This column summarises a conference on lessons for the future of housing, jointly organised by the Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis at Imperial College Business School and CEPR.

Olle Hammar, Daniel Waldenström, 19 March 2018

Richard Samans, 06 March 2018

Recent political developments in many countries suggest that most of their citizens lack confidence in the assumption of the standard growth model that everyone in a society benefits from GDP growth. This column proposes a multidimensional 'Inclusive Development Index', based on a dashboard of indicators in growth and development, inclusion, and intergenerational equity and sustainability. GDP per capita growth is weakly correlated with performance in many of the new index’s indicators, including those pertaining to employment, income and wealth inequality, and carbon intensity.

Jonathan D. Ostry, Andrew Berg, Siddharth Kothari, 19 February 2018

While there is consensus that structural reforms can increase growth, there is also a fear that certain reforms can exacerbate inequality. This column argues – based on a dataset covering financial, institutional, and real sector reforms – that certain reforms do indeed increase inequality but despite this, the net effect on growth remains positive.

Roy Van der Weide, Christoph Lakner, Elena Ianchovichina, 16 February 2018

Supreet Kaur, 08 February 2018

Elva Bova, Tidiane Kinda, Jaejoon Woo, 07 February 2018

Understanding the distributional consequences of fiscal adjustment measures is important for equity, but also to ensure the sustainability of the measures. This column shows that fiscal adjustments increase inequality, including through unemployment. Spending-based adjustments worsen inequality more significantly than tax-based adjustments. Progressive taxation and targeted social benefits and subsidies introduced in the context of a broader decline in spending can help offset some of the distributional impact of fiscal adjustments.

Bruce Meyer, James Sullivan, 15 January 2018

Concerns about rising inequality inform important debates on some of our most significant policy issues, but the debate over inequality relies almost exclusively on income data. This column argues that consumption data show how changes in inequality in economic wellbeing are more nuanced than a simple story of rising dispersion throughout the distribution. In the bottom half of the distribution there is little evidence rising consumption inequality, and in the top half of the distribution the rise in consumption inequality has been much more modest than the rise in income inequality, particularly since 2000. 

Ravi Kanbur, 08 January 2018

Technological innovation is broadly accepted as a driving force behind diverging wage trends in the last three decades. If this is set to continue, policymakers must choose how to respond to the ensuing income inequality. This column assesses two established policy response ideas – state-sponsored formal education, and tax and transfer mechanisms – and postulates a third, namely, that the pace and distributional effects of technological change should themselves be policy goals. A policy intervention that would make innovation more labour intensive would be the most powerful response of all.

Leonardo Gasparini, Guillermo Cruces, Sebastian Galiani, Pablo Acosta, 05 January 2018

While income dispersion significantly increased over the 1990s in most Latin American countries, the 2000s were characterised by a widespread fall in socioeconomic and labour disparities. This column uses a supply-demand framework to explore changes in labour market returns to education in the region. The relative supply of skilled labour rose consistently over the period, while the wage skill premium rose then fell. Supply-side factors seem less important than demand-side factors in accounting for changes in the skill premium, especially between workers with a tertiary education and the rest.

Peter Lindert, 20 November 2017

There has been a blossoming of research into fiscal incidence by income class. This column combines century-long histories for Britain and South American countries with previous research to offer a global history of government income redistribution. Contrary to some allegations, the shift towards progressivity in government budgets over the last 100 years has not been reversed since the 1970s. The rise in inequality since the 1970s therefore appears to owe nothing to a net shift government redistribution toward the rich.

Filip Novokmet, Thomas Piketty, Gabriel Zucman, 09 November 2017

Russia has undergone a dramatic economic and political transformation since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990-1991, yet the consequences on the distribution of income and wealth are not very well documented and understood. This column attempts to combine the various available data sources in order to provide consistent series on the accumulation and distribution of income and wealth in Russia from the Soviet period until the present day.

Giovanni Federico, Alessandro Nuvolari, Michelangelo Vasta, 06 November 2017

The origins of the Italian north–south economic divide have always been controversial. This column argues that using real wages in the 19th century, rather than output data, sheds new light on this debate. At unification, there was already a significant gap between real wages in the north and continental south, which widened as the north-west industrialised. The main driver of the growth of real wages in this period was human capital formation.

Sergei Guriev, Danny Leipziger, Jonathan D. Ostry, 17 October 2017

Globalisation and technological change present policymakers with tremendous challenges in sustaining benefits while containing the dislocations and polarisation that are plaguing many countries. This column argues that the answer is not to roll back these forces, but rather to redouble efforts to make globalisation genuinely inclusive. This involves thinking hard about the design and rules governing globalisation itself, including with respect to finance, but also with respect to trade. It also necessitates a recalibration of national economic policies that affect who benefits and who pays, and a host of complementary policies to mitigate exclusion and allow citizens to bounce back when dislocations occur.

Stéphane Bonhomme, Laura Hospido, 04 September 2017

The link between the rise in unemployment and the housing market in the US during the Great Recession is well documented. This column shows that in the case of Spain, the rise and fall in demand for construction workers following developments within the housing market had a big impact earnings inequality as well as employment. While there has been no apparent trend in the recent evolution of earnings inequality in Spain, countercyclical fluctuations have been substantial, with the construction sector playing a key role in this.

Kaushik Basu, Parikshit Ghosh, 20 June 2017

Pages

Events

CEPR Policy Research