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Very interesting overview of the inequality debate
am 19. September 2012
In his new book, Joseph Stiglitz focuses the current state of inequality the world, particularly in the US. After discussion the current state of inequality illustrated by many examples, the discussion turns to the causes of these disparities.
Stiglitz shows impressively that the high level of inequality we observe today is not an unavoidable side product of our economic system but essentially shaped by politics, which are in turn shaped by powerful lobbies and individual interests. He discusses issues like ‘rent seeking’ or ‘deregulation’. Stiglitz shows as well that many theories of economic science are based on wrong assumptions and therefore yield to erroneous conclusions.
The book is well suited for both, non-academic readers interested in getting a better understanding of the issues of inequality and academic readers searching for a general discussion of the phenomenon. Additionally, for interested readers about 100 pages of endnotes guide to scientific work behind the figures and theories Stiglitz describes.
Sometimes the book is simplifying quite a lot by dividing the society in rich and poor people, making the discussion easier. However, the reader is advised (also by the author) to bear that in mind.
The book is mainly focusing on the US context and especially when talking about the politic mechanisms behind today’s inequality, the reader is essentially confronted to the US context. Readers interested in other regions might see that as a disadvantage.
A small critique would include the fact that the book is a little repetitive; some concepts are explained several times, even though presented in slightly different ways.
Overall, I appreciate this book a lot and can really recommend it to all people interested in understanding the sources of inequality. The book is written in a very understandable way and no prior knowledge is needed.