Inequality : what can be done? / Anthony B. Atkinson.

by Atkinson, A. B. (Anthony Barnes), 1944- [author.].

Publisher: Cambridge, Massachusetts ; Harvard University Press, 2015.Description: xi, 384 pages ; 24 cm.ISBN: 9780674504769.Subject(s): Income distributionLooking glass | PovertyLooking glass | EqualityLooking glass | Welfare economicsLooking glassNote: Includes bibliographical references and index.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Winner of the Richard A. Lester Award for the Outstanding Book in Industrial Relations and Labor Economics, Princeton University
An Economist Best Economics and Business Book of the Year
A Financial Times Best Economics Book of the Year

Inequality is one of our most urgent social problems. Curbed in the decades after World War II, it has recently returned with a vengeance. We all know the scale of the problem?talk about the 99% and the 1% is entrenched in public debate?but there has been little discussion of what we can do but despair. According to the distinguished economist Anthony Atkinson, however, we can do much more than skeptics imagine.

?[Atkinson] sets forth a list of concrete, innovative, and persuasive proposals meant to show that alternatives still exist, that the battle for social progress and equality must reclaim its legitimacy, here and now? Witty, elegant, profound, this book should be read.?
?Thomas Piketty, New York Review of Books

?An uncomfortable affront to our reigning triumphalists. [Atkinson's] premise is straightforward: inequality is not unavoidable, a fact of life like the weather, but the product of conscious human behavior.
?Owen Jones, The Guardian

Includes bibliographical references and index.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Acknowledgements (p. ix)
  • Introduction (p. 1)
  • Part 1 Diagnosis (p. 7)
  • 1 Setting the Scene (p. 9)
  • 2 Learning from History (p. 45)
  • 3 The Economics of Inequality (p. 82)
  • A Summing-Up So Far (p. 110)
  • Part 2 Proposals for Action (p. 113)
  • 4 Technological Change and Countervailing Power (p. 115)
  • 5 Employment and Pay in the Future (p. 133)
  • 6 Capital Shared (p. 155)
  • 7 Progressive Taxation (p. 179)
  • 8 Social Security for All (p. 205)
  • Proposals to Reduce the Extent of Inequality (p. 237)
  • Part 3 Can It Be Done? (p. 241)
  • 9 Shrinking the Cake? (p. 243)
  • 10 Globalisation Prevents Action? (p. 263)
  • 11 Can We Afford It? (p. 281)
  • The Way Forward (p. 301)
  • Glossary (p. 309)
  • Notes (p. 315)
  • Contents in Detail (p. 351)
  • List of Tables and Figures (p. 353)
  • Figure Sources (p. 355)
  • Index (p. 361)

Reviews provided by Syndetics


Though talk of the 1 percent or the 99 percent pervades the media these days, there is very little clarity when it comes to a true understanding of economic inequality. What causes inequality? Should something be done about it? If so, what? Atkinson (London School of Economics and Political Science), a long-time expert on the subject, seeks to lay bare the underlying issues in a manner accessible to non-economists. After covering the landscape of inequality measurement and theories of economic inequality, of both outcomes and opportunity, the author outlines a set of 15 fairly radical proposals to curb runaway inequality (assuming inequality needs curbing). These proposals include a minimum inheritance for all, a global tax on wealth, and a governmental role in influencing the direction of technological progress away from the kind that exacerbates inequality. They are bold and fresh proposals, but they have little chance of ever being adopted--at least not in today's US. But that is beside the point. Inequality has long been believed to be an inevitable outcome of capitalism; the author rightly begs to differ. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers. --Joydeep Bhattacharya, Iowa State University

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Anthony Barnes Atkinson was born in Caerleon, United Kingdom on September 4, 1944. He received a bachelor's degree in 1966 from Churchill College, Cambridge. He was a fellow at St. John's College, Cambridge, from 1967 to 1971, a professor of economics at the University of Essex from 1971 to 1976, and a professor of political economy at University College, London, from 1976 to 1979. He taught at the London School of Economics from 1980 to 1992. He then returned to Cambridge, where he taught for two years, before moving to Nuffield College, where he taught from 1994 to 2005.

As an economist, he studied the changes in the distribution of wealth and income, which allowed for a better understanding of poverty and inequality. He along with other scholars organized the World Wealth and Income Database, a resource for the comparative study of inequality. He wrote more than 40 books including The Distribution of Personal Wealth in Britain written with A. J. Harrison, Lectures on Public Economics written with Joseph E. Stiglitz, and Inequality: What Can Be Done? He died from myeloma on January 1, 2017 at the age of 72.

(Bowker Author Biography)