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The Pride and Prejudice of Piketty

9 April 2015

Anyone who has read his fair share of newspapers during the past year must have come across the name of Thomas Piketty and his plea to tackle the problem of income inequality. Numerous reviews and reactions have been raised. To name just one conspicuous commentator, Paul Krugman states that: “Mr. Piketty’s contribution is serious, discourse-changing scholarship in a way most best sellers aren’t.”

But what does Piketty have in store for demographers? In my view demographers can benefit considerably from reading Piketty’s magnum opus. The core of his claim is that we’re not living in a meritocracy because income inequality is too skewed to be seen or defended as a reflection of individual efforts. What’s more, wealth inequality is even more pronounced and things don’t look better for the remainder of the 21st century, as Piketty provides long-run evidence on the inequality between returns on capital and the growth rate of the economy. To counter the growing inequality and let the highest wealth owners support the welfare state, a modest progressive capital tax, preferably at the global level, offers in his view the best way to counter the negative effects of inequality. []

By Harry van Dalen

Read the full article here: DEMOTRENDS, April 9, 2015.

Source: DEMOTRENDS - Blog on demographic trends, research and resources

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