The costs of income inequality: capitalism and democracy at cross-purposes


Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 5:15 pm
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
ASERI, Via San Vittore, 18

Presentation of the Italian edition of John Ravenhill Global Political Economy textbook, edited by Giuseppe Gabusi.


Robert Hunter Wade, London School of Economics and Political Sciences
Simona Beretta, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Director of the Master in International Cooperation and Development
Giuseppe Gabusi, University of Turin and T.way

De Tocqueville said that, "When inequality is the common law of a society, the greatest inequalities do not call attention to themselves" (Democracy in America). Economists, politicians and international organizations (like the World Bank, IMF, and now the G20) have long ignored the costs of income/wealth inequality. This lecture emphasizes the political costs to democratic political systems, as these systems become highly responsive to the voices of the wealthy and much less responsive to the "median voter". It goes on to suggest new policy priorities for social democrats, in order to reign in income concentration at the top & moderate "representational bias" in favour of the wealthy in western politics.

Robert H. Wade is professor of political economy at the London School of Economics. He won the Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought in 2008. His book Governing the Market (Princeton University Press, 1990, 2004) won the American Political Science Association award for Best Book in Political Economy in 1992. In 2008 The Financial Times listed him as one among "fifty of the world's most influential economists".

Before LSE he worked at the Institute of Development Studies (Sussex University), Princeton, MIT, Brown, and as an economist at the World Bank. He held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, the Russell Sage Foundation, New York, and the Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin. He has carried out field research in Pitcairn Island, Italy, India, South Korea, Taiwan, and inside the World Bank. Son of a New Zealand diplomat, his high school and undergraduate education was in New Zealand.

In recent years his research and writing has concentrated on issues of global inequality; global economic and financial governance (including the G20 and the World Bank); financial crises and financial regulation; the entrepreneurial role of the state (including in the United States); and the ethics of economists.

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05 December 2013