The main driver of inequality—returns on capital that exceed the rate of economic growth—is again threatening to generate extreme discontent and undermine democratic values. Thomas Piketty’s findings in this ambitious, original, rigorous work will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality.
Thomas Piketty is a fine example of an evaluative thinker. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, he not only provides detailed and sustained explanations of why he sees existing arguments relating to income and wealth distribution as flawed, but also gives us very detailed evaluations of the significance of a vast amount of data explaining why incomes is distributed in the ways it is. As Piketty stresses, “the distribution question... deserves to be studied in a systematic and methodical fashion.” This stress on evaluating the significance of data leads him to focus on the central evaluative questions, and look in turn at the acceptability, relevance, and adequacy of existing justifications for the unequal distribution of wealth. In doing so, Piketty applies his understanding of the data to answering the deeply important question of what political structures and what policies are necessary to move us towards a more equal society. Piketty’s evaluation of the data supports his argument that inequality cannot be depended on to reduce over time: indeed, without government intervention, it is highly likely to increase. In addition, he evaluates international data to argue that poor countries do not necessarily become less poor as a result of foreign investment. This strong emphasis on the interrogation of data, rather than building mathematical models that are divorced from data, is a defining feature of Piketty’s work.
Condensed into a detailed analysis and a selection of continent-wide datasets, this revised edition of World Population & Human Capital in the Twenty-First Century addresses the role of educational attainment in global population trends and models. Presenting the full chapter text of the original edition alongside a concise selection of data, it summarizes past trends in fertility, mortality, migration, and education, and examines relevant theories to identify key determining factors. Deriving from a global survey of hundreds of experts and five expert meetings on as many continents, World Population & Human Capital in the Twenty-First Century: An Overview emphasizes alternative trends in human capital, new ways of studying ageing and the quantification of alternative population, and education pathways in the context of global sustainable development. It is an ideal companion to the county specific online Wittgenstein Centre Data Explorer.
Few books have had the global impact of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. An overnight bestseller, Piketty’s assessment that inherited wealth will always grow faster, on average, than earned wealth has energised debate. Hailed as ‘bigger than Marx’ (The Economist) or dismissed as ‘medieval’ (Wall Street Journal), the book is widely acknowledged as having significant economic and political implications. Collected in this BWB Text are responses to this phenomenon from a diverse range of New Zealand economists and commentators. These voices speak independently to the relevance of Piketty’s conclusions. Is New Zealand faced with a one-way future of rising inequality? Does redistribution need to focus more on wealth, rather than just income? Was the post-war Great Convergence merely an aberration and is our society doomed to regress into a new Gilded Age?
Succinct, accessible, and authoritative, Thomas Piketty’s The Economics of Inequality is the ideal place to start for those who want to understand the fundamental issues at the heart of one the most pressing concerns in contemporary economics and politics. This work now appears in English for the first time.