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Inequality: What Can Be Done?

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  351 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Winner of the Richard A. Lester Award for the Outstanding Book in Industrial Relations and Labor Economics, Princeton University
An Economist Best Economics and Business Book of the Year
A Financial Times Best Economics Book of the Year

Inequality is one of our most urgent social problems. Curbed in the decades after World War II, it has recently returned with a vengeance. We
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published May 11th 2015 by Harvard University Press (first published May 1st 2015)
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3.82  · 
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 ·  351 ratings  ·  50 reviews

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The topic of social inequality has been widely discussed in certain policy circles even before the publication of Capital in the Twenty-First Century in 2013. Piketty takes a longer historical view of the phenomenon, and takes a pessimistic view of its historical inevitability.

Atkinson, one of the main figures in the field of inequality economics, takes a different approach to the questions of inequality. He does not view it as a continuous historical process, but a series of episodes. He compa
Peter Mcloughlin
For once a book that doesn't merely call for education and child care to alleviate inequality but a book that concentrates on good old redistribution through taxation, minimum wage laws, expanding the social safety net, and making it much easier to form a union. A book with a real plan that would actually make life better for the 99% the policies could be put in place tomorrow except for one pesky detail. The one percent own the political system and it won't be done unless they are under serious ...more
Inequality: What can be done? by Anthony B. Atkinson, is a fascinating book that examines basic policy prescriptions to reduce inequality levels and improve close the wage distribution gap that many nations currently feature. Atkinson begins the book by examining inequality levels over the past century, using primarily data from the US and UK as a comparison, but also looking globally when needed to make his statistics more authoritative. He finds that income inequality has a U shaped curve - in ...more
Apr 29, 2015 rated it liked it
By Edward Hadas

Income inequality is a hot economic and political topic. But Anthony Atkinson, an academic at Oxford, was into it long before it became trendy. He published his first paper on the topic in 1970. Since then he has collected a knighthood and 19 honorary degrees, earned for a distinctive combination of ethical, statistical and practical analysis. His latest book – “Inequality: What can be done?” – is mostly practical.

Atkinson does not hide his bias in favour of greater equality. The
Jason Furman
May 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, economics
Anthony Atkinson was one of the pioneers of research into inequality beginning in the 1960s, one of the original people to put together comprehensive estimates of income shares based on administrative tax data, and a lifelong contributor to both economics and public policy. So it is no surprise that his summary of a lifetime of thought and engagement in the new book Inequality is comprehensive, wise, but does not contain much that is very original--if only because much of Atkinson's original con ...more
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Se trata de una versión más corta, menos técnica, más aburrida y más inglesa de Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Creo que le pifié al ponerme a leerlo todo. Me pasa un poco eso, no logro identificar que no es necesario leer todo un libro para saber de que va, y que es imposible leer todos los libros. Me interesaba algo en la línea de Desigualdad: este libro lo cita al principio, pero no va más allá de eso. También menciona la discusión que me interesa con Rawls a la cabeza, pero se vuelve ...more
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bibliocase
If there is anyone who has the credibility to hold forth on both the plague of inequality as well as its obliteration, it is Anthony Atkinson. Having dedicated a significant part of his career to the cause and consequence of inequality, Anthony Atkinson is a treasure trove of ideas, suggestions, measures and recommendations. He puts all these valuable attributes to splendid effect in "Inequality: What Can Be Done?".

Beginning by providing an overview of the pernicious problem that is inequality,
Dec 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in economic policy
Recommended to James by: Andrew
Shelves: non-fiction
While at heart a good book, its written in that academic purple prose style that made Capital in the Twenty-First Century such a slog. I suppose this must be expected of any economics text, I have read very few that aren't heavily padded. It looses a star for writing style.

At the heart of this book is Atkinson's 15 proposals designed to reverse this rising inequality that started in the early 80's.

Let's look at Proposal 6: There should be a capital endowment (minimum inheritance) paid to all at
Salvador Medina
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: desigualdad
Este es un libro - ensayo de economía de nivel básico-intermedio. El libro esta dividido en dos partes. En la primera, explica conceptos básicos y la evolución de la desigualdad en el mundo. En la segunda parte elabora una serie de propuestas de política económica e ideas a explorar para reducir la desigualdad, enfatizando en el Reino Unido. Al mismo tiempo, también escribe un capítulo para dar respuesta a las posibles críticas a dichas propuestas. Por ejemplo, un mito típico es que algunas medi ...more
Billie Pritchett
Oct 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Anthony Atkinson's Inequality is a dense book probably aimed at people who are much smarter than I am. But it's nonetheless easy to grasp the basic ideas. Atkinson talks about the extreme degree in which the developed world faces income inequality and practical ways to rectify that inequality. Essentially, what he thinks is that the problem requires a patchwork of solutions or a package of policies that all have to be implemented in concert with one another. For example, one decent thing that co ...more
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Este es quizá uno de los mejores libros de economía que he leído.

El libro de Atkinson es una mezcla poco común de análisis económico riguroso, capacidad pedagógica en la exposición de los argumentos y uso adecuado de datos y estadísticas. El libro busca responder la pregunta ¿qué hacer para disminuir la desigualdad? y es por ello que puede ser visto como un complemento al texto de Piketty. En la primera parte del libro Atkinson explica las razones por las cuales es posible considerar la disminu
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Atkinson has contributed an important book that adds a lot to the discussion on the issues raised in Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century. Taking as given the notion that one would like to redistribute wealth and income more equally, he takes up the question of how to go about it.

The point of view is an eye-opener for someone used to American political discourse: neither "redistribution" nor "welfare state" seem to carry any pejorative connotation. While the discussion is often specific to the
Sagheer Afzal
Jul 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
I would have given this book five stars but for a glaring omision. Professor Atkinson very clearly gives his reasons for income equality in the UK and makes cogent proposals for alleviating the inequality. But he has totally neglected to mention the role of banks in helping create income equality. Especially the way banks pump excessive credit to household and inflate unsustainable bubbles in housing and other assets.

Other than that; it is a very comprehensive book with solid proposal to reduce
Kristoffer Berg
Nov 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Atkinson har mange gode og radikale forslag til hvordan ulikhet kan motvirkes og reduseres. Likevel blir boken litt lite engasjerende. Den skrevet nesten utelukkende for en britisk kontekst, er preget av mange detaljer, og kun enkelte kapitler inneholder mer generelle betraktninger om ulikhet. En kan si at boken utfyller Pikettys bok, ved å dreie temaet mot hva som kan gjøres med ulikhet, men den ender opp med å bli for konkret til å være interessant lesning. Likefullt kan det være et nyttig opp ...more
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This book is an intellectual tour de force. The author covers a vast amount of ground in amazing detail. I like the author's proposal for eradicate inequality. They are more realistic, I think, than Picketty's prescription of a global wealth tax and could be achieved if governments are willing and able.
Thomas Kouroughli
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: inequality
Takes the topic further by introducing tangible proposals to tackle the problem of inequality. Anyone interested in the subject matter or interested in policy in general should study this.
Sami Eerola
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
Good academic book on economics and not so hard to read, but difficult to understand. For a layman like me this book has very complicated tax schemes and so forth. Still the book is divided in chapters and sub chapters and at the end of each chapter there is a summary. So there are many chances to trying to understand what the writer is trying to explain. The most interesting part was the beginning of the book, where the writer explains how inequality is measured and why it is now worst than in ...more
Jim Manis
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
Atkinson is a British academic who has co-authored some works with the French economist Thomas Piketty. "Inequality," published in 2015, before the fiasco that has currently overtaken the U.S. and the idiocy of Brexit, offers a number of possible steps that could be taken to limit the economic inequality that exists in western European countries and the U.S.

The one problem that I have with the book is that Atkinson doesn't explicit illustrate the economic problem with widening inequality. We re
Rodrigo Leão
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
The book brings light to a very important issue in the modern economy: the inequality and the problems that it creates to the society.

Even though the idea is interesting, there are many flaws in the proposals solutions, such as:
- Look for equality in results doesn't consider the motivations of the human beens;
- An annual income tax at 65% would make people avoid keep savings. They would earn the money and spend it all.

I could list many propositions and its flaws, so I think it is easier to say t
Steven Willmott
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: society
This is a very valuable deep dive into the social impact of inequality and what might be done about it. There are plenty of solutions proposed which are interesting to think about. Sadly they are almost all policy / political in nature and it seems unlikely that many of them are going to be adopted in the current climate.

That doesn't make them invalid (though I'm not sure they are all as sound as each other), but they aren't likely to be accessible as near-term solutions for many nations.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book, I only wish I'd read it sooner. Extremely important ideas and proposals, still salient, to reduce inequality. Despite their radicalism the author supports his points very well and doesn't stray too far from orthodoxy (and when he does, it's usually insightful). Some of the explanations can be quite technical and dry at times, I would suggest skipping past sections that are of less interest.
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economy
The book feels too heavy for non-economists and somewhat shallow for true specialist . But I appreciate the solid research, and the instrumental and intrinsic reasons against inequality. Also it's sad to see how the Western world (UK & US) moving in opposite direction as the book suggests. Unlike the author, I'm pessimistic about the situation.
Vicente Plata
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a very interesting book. It develops its thoughts in a very well organized way. Very clear! However, the last chapters work only the British case, and thus are less important for the non British readers. Nevertheless, I highly reccomend this book for those interested on the topic.
Jul 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
Overall just a little too academic and "ivory tower"-ish for my taste. I'd have liked to have seen more analysis on the effects the proposals would have and rather less on the rationale for each proposal.
Andrej Badilla Solano
Un excelente reflexión sobre las alternativas para luchar con la desigualdad y repensar los esquemas de redistribución de la riqueza.
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
The proposed (mostly taxation schemes) interventions are so complicated as to be absurdly impractical. There is otherwise a good bit of provocative content.
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Atkinson gives some concrete ideas about things that have to be done, but I am not completely convinced and there are issues I wish he'd addressed more, like global inequality. Would have been better with a bit more math, and the economic theories he uses explained more. Overall a bit dry.
Dario Varese
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mostra questa recensione

“Disuguaglianza – Che cosa si può fare?”, titolo originale: “Inequality. What can be done?” Anthony B. Atkinson, traduzione di Virginio B. Sala, editore Raffaello Cortina, ISBN: 978-88-6030-788-0.

La disuguaglianza di reddito e di opportunità, dopo un periodo di calo relativo avvenuto per buona parte del novecento è di nuovo in crescita quasi dappertutto. La svolta, nei paesi industrializzati è avvenuta, un po’ ovunque, a partire dagli anni ottanta del medesimo secolo e a
John  Mihelic
Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Inequality is bad.

Wait, not the book, but the fact that some have much more than others and that it is truly impossible to justify that in terms of hard work - whatever that means.

Inequality has been the elephant in the room that was ignored for so long until Piketty blew up for some reason last year. It's weird how that happens in the culture. I bought Piketty’s book Capital on pre-order and only got about 100 pages in,. By the time I actually got the book, I had read so many blogs going back
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a very good book but a talented and sound economist of the subject of present-day trends in inequality. It is both diagnostic and prescriptive. Atkinson writes with great clarity. Discussions of survey techniques and the sources of data, their strengths and weaknesses, which you would think would make your eyes glaze over, are downright interesting, at least to me.
There is no single source from which present day inequality trends flow. That makes sense.
And there is no single solution, no
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“if the wealthiest fraction of a society feel that they can afford to insulate themselves from the common fate and buy their way out of the common institutions, that is also a form of social isolation.” 2 likes
“Finally, the third reason for concern about inequality of outcome is that it directly affects equality of opportunity—for the next generation. Today’s ex-post outcomes shape tomorrow’s ex ante playing field: the beneficiaries of inequality of outcome today can transmit an unfair advantage to their children tomorrow. Concern about unequal opportunity, and about limited social mobility, has intensified as the distributions of income and wealth have become more unequal. This is because the impact of family background on outcome depends both on the strength of the relationship between background and outcome and on the extent of inequality among family backgrounds. Inequality of outcome among today’s generation is the source of the unfair advantage received by the next generation. If we are concerned about equality of opportunity tomorrow, we need to be concerned about inequality of outcome today.” 1 likes
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