Assessing the risks of economic inequality; the impact on societal wellbeing and economic development

Dr Nat O’Connor (Ulster)

Economic inequality is rising in the developed world and influential research has found major risks to economic growth and population health; including OECD reports, IMF working papers, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century and the UK’s ‘Marmot Review’. Nobel economist Robert Shiller has called it “The most important problem that we are facing now today”. US President Obama has called income inequality the “defining challenge of our time”. While the USA leads on the extreme growth of income inequality, the UK and many other developed countries are moving in the same direction, and it is a global problem that transcends partisan politics. This seminar will use technical data and major research findings from a range of sources to look at how ‘economic inequality’ is defined and measured, and how inequality interacts with the wider economy, while demystifying some of the economic jargon involved. Technically, the rise of inequality is a ‘complex social problem’. The presentation uses An Inconvenient Truth as an example of the policy challenges involved in addressing a complex, multi-part, multi-cause issue such as economic inequality. The seminar will look at some policy solutions and challenges.

Date of seminar: 7 June 2017.

Policy Briefing