Tue Aug 10, 2004

Egalitarian Capitalism

I’ve mentioned this book before, but now that it’s been published so I thought it worth mentioning again. Egalitarian Capitalism is a new book by my new colleague Lane Kenworthy, who’s just joined us at Arizona. It’s a comparative analysis of trends in income inequality and household pre- and post-tax transfers in sixteen wealthy capitalist democracies. Lane’s approach is to ask whether the data support the idea that there are tradeoffs between a low degree of inequality, on the one hand, and strong growth, high employment and growing incomes. The short answer is “not really.” The longer answer has interesting discussions of which approaches work and which seem not to. It’s a good book: the argument, the writing, and the data analysis are accessible and easy to follow. As has often been said around here, policy and public debate in the United States hardly ever looks around to see how other countries organize the relationship between economy and society. Maybe the current climate provides an opportunity to change that: To see how equality is compatible with various measures of economic success, read the book. (To get a sense of how these countries compare to Neoconservative ideals, just continue to follow the news about Iraq.) You can read the first chapter to get a better sense of what the project is; “look at the cover”:http://www.u.arizona.edu/~lkenwor/egalitariancapitalism-cover.pdf; or just buy it.