ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Discourse on Inequality beyond Capital in the Twenty-First Century

After Piketty: The Agenda for Economics and Inequality edited by Heather Boushey, J Bradford DeLong and Marshall Steinbaum, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: Harvard University Press, 2017; pp 678, ₹ 1,099.

Inequality as a politico–economic concern has been subjected to an intense multidimensional debate over the decades, which has seen the emergence of several works of scholarship to (re)examine the issue from varied spatial and temporal perspectives. At the same time, it has been a moral concern, too, since the unequal concentration of wealth beyond a tipping point violates all sense of fairness and justice, and also undermines opportunities and mobility. In the ongoing decade, one of the most noteworthy works on the issue of inequality is Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, popularly abbreviated as C21. Hailed as a tour de force that brings together analysis of both economic growth and distribution, the work is believed to have intensely impacted the global discourse on inequality. It is widely regarded as an ambitious attempt to understand the dynamics of inequality in the West that has been widening since 1970. It is also commended for refocusing on inequality without ignoring the narrower categories of income, such as the richest 1% of the population, unlike previous studies that are predominated by wage gaps across broad income categories like working class versus poor, and/or college graduates versus the lesser educated.

Additionally, while majority of the studies on inequality rely on statistical data to analyse this complex phenomenon, C21’s contribution in advancing this empirical understanding of inequality is the introduction of a relatively new database extracted from tax records in congruence with other sources, thus “broadening the set of facts” available. The book, therefore, is regarded as a significant treatise adding new insights and dimensions to the conventional understanding of the various aspects of inequality, and potentially influencing subsequent policy research and discussions on the same.

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Updated On : 18th Dec, 2018

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