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The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them
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The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  836 ratings  ·  110 reviews
A singular voice of reason in an era defined by bitter politics and economic uncertainty, Joseph E. Stiglitz has time and again diagnosed America’s greatest economic challenges, from the Great Recession and its feeble recovery to the yawning gap between the rich and the poor. The Great Divide gathers his most provocative reflections to date on the subject of inequality. As ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published April 25th 2016 by W. W. Norton Company (first published April 7th 2015)
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There is little that is technically new in this book. It is a collection of previously published newspaper columns, essays, speeches, and one new interview and a few essays.

The main point here can be summarized by one of the essay titles: 'Inequality is not inevitable'. He makes the point that the relative extremes of inequality in the United States were not a natural law of capitalism, but a deliberate result of political forces, particularly the neoliberal policy reforms made from 1980 onward.
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine an economist who doesn't have his head up his butt. That's Stiglitz. This is a collection, so some of the stuff is from the Bush years. Still much of it is classic.
May 29, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sorry, I cannot recommend this book. First, if you're looking for scholarship, this is not it. Rather it is nearly totally a collection of newspaper columns and of course we cannot expect good references for those. Some of them are many years old and clearly outdated. There is a little additional information some of which is documented but very little.

Another problem I find bothersome is that the book lacks an index. That, for a non-fiction book, is a major offense.

The author assumes, with some
Michelle Keill
I broadly agree with Stiglitz: I am not anti-capitalism per se, but markets do need regulation. The trend these days for governments to be slaves to ideology, at the expense of those who aren't in the 1%, is worrying, to put it mildly. So this book didn't need to work hard to convince me. It was a hard read though, not because of the content, which is fine for anyone with a basic grasp of economics or an interest in it, but because there is so much repetition. Yes, it is a collection of essays, ...more
Naman Garg
May 02, 2017 rated it liked it
The book is a collection of Stiglitz's writings in popular media. My low ratings owe mainly to the repetitiveness of the main themes and arguments in various chapters; It gets very boring to read. Sectional introductions are written pretty well and reading just them is sufficient in my opinion; the chapters don't add much value after the sectional introductions
Artem Lukianov
I bought this book in hope to discover Stiglitz's conjecture on inequality, hoping to do so by reading his latest book. His promotion of it on Bloomberg might have precipitated this choice. If only I knew this would be a mere collection of articles of his (most of which are freely available online) and an interview. Not that the positions he espouses in this book are particularly alien to me; I just felt a bit ripped off to buy a book that only contains lots of surface level discussions of such ...more
♥ Sarah
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
If you've read one - you've read them all. Stiglitz's: the Price of Inequality did a better job detailing his arguments clearly and succinctly. His solutions were also very reasonable and straightforward. Here, there are more or less very similar arguments and the same repetitive rhetoric thrown in with powerful buzz-words for effect.
Pierre Gilly
Since this book is a collection of articels it's a bit repetitive. And those that has read some other of Stiglitz books wont find much new stuff. Despite this it's a good read.
Umair Khan
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Economy might be a boring subject for the majority of readers, however, a number of economists have been trying to popularise important debates on economic issues. Such arguments have caught the imaginations of several citizens concerned with their economic prospects. Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate and former chief economist of the World Bank, has raised serious concerns about the distribution of wealth — in the USA in particular and across the world in general — in his latest book, quite pr ...more
Ruth Hellman
Jan 21, 2018 rated it liked it

Stiglitz is an important voice in economics, and he is working hard to help non-economists understand that capitalism comes in many different varieties depending on the policy decisions made by the people in power where it is practiced. This collection of material, much of it previously published in a variety of columns and articles in business and policy journals, centers on the way capitalism, as currently practiced in the United States, has moved our economy toward a two tier reality without
Angie Boyter
Nice collection for Stiglitz fans
The growing disparity in income and wealth between the richest Americans and “the rest of us” is very much in the news these days, but Nobel-Prize-winning economist Joseph Stigliz has been writing about it for a long time. This book brings together short pieces that appeared in publications such as Vanity Fair and the New York Times warning of the dangers of inequality as long ago as 2007.
The book is in nine sections. The first section he calls a Prelude because
Jagdish Tripathy
Dec 30, 2016 rated it liked it
A great read on the subject of inequality and how politics and policies are behind the stagnation in real wages of the middle class and lower. Eye-opening and informative on the central thesis of the book that inequality is not a natural outcome of capitalisms/skill biased technological change, but is an outcome of our politics/policies. The book is convincing in showing that we can reduce inequality without compromising economic growth. Though two caveats -
1. The book is fairly repetitive. The
Jun 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-affairs
This is a collection of essays and articles originally written for Politico, NY Times, Project Syndicate etc. As a book, it gets a bit tiresome to read the same argument over and over (as often the case such collections). Sometimes I wish, for instance in the introductions to each section, to have seen a bit more of the calculations behind the claims. Still, this is a book with a political message, and it deserves to be read.

Stiglitz' main claim is that inequality is bad for the over-all econom
Lukas op de Beke
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Because it is a collection of essays, it does get a tad repetitive, especially towards the penultimate chapter. Still, the last chapter on regional perspectives is very interesting- until now I had not heard of the Mauritius economic miracle- and Stiglitz is a star in dumbing down economic theory. A few key insights that stuck with me are first, the idea that the rich become rich more often than not through rent-seeking- i.e. getting a bigger size of the pie instead of enlarging it for everyone- ...more
Yes, I get it. Abusive credit card practices and shoddy mortgages caused the financial crisis. I really do, no need to repeat it another 27 times. Seriously!

Now, let me elaborate. I agree with the author in many, many points but the book feels like an endlessly repeated and pretty much copy-pasted assemblage of buzzwords that even with the introductory comments in each chapter are still an incredibly boring read. I do not question the authors authority as an economist, but the selected articles
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Stiglitz is a very accomplished economist with a decidedly liberal point of view. His focus on income inequality and the necessity of addressing the issue is very timely. What I don't understand is his insistence on demonizing those who may not agree with him, or believe there are other solutions to the problem. In recent articles I've read, it's clear there are some 1%ers, and even some of those crass and greedy bankers who agree with his conclusions. But Dr. Stiglitz's gratuitous, demeanin ...more
Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆
Been lazy again and haven't put my read books up here. XD I'm so going to win my challenge but lose because I'm freakin' lazy.

This was interesting. I enjoyed the previous book of his that I'd read. This one is a collection of his articles that have been published in the major magazines and sites. Since I don't follow this articles, they were all new to me but this might not be the case for everyone so you've been warned.
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A collection of articles on inequality, the distribution of wealth and how that is affecting our societies. Read and learn.
This is a book that was ok because it's a collection of essays - and there's only so much you can convey in one essay. I left knowing how Joseph Stiglitz thinks about equality, but it doesn't feel like there's an in-depth, meaty look at the reasons for inequality. It's also rather American-centric, which is fair enough, but I didn't care for it. So 2.5/5 stars.

I did like the essay on Singapore:

Singapore realised that an economy could not succeed if most of its citizens were not participating in
Peter Chan
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
About 10 years ago, I first read a book "Making Globalization Work" from Joseph E. Stiglitz, the Nobel Laureate in economics. His book inspired me and changed my view of world economy. It taught me a lot. It was not exaggerating to say that the world looked afresh to me.

Years later, I read this book of his. He kept inspiring me and widened my horizon on the world economy, letting me see what is really going on.

"The Great Divide" is about the growing inequality. His book focuses on US but also ta
Dan Gorman
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Smart work of center-left economics for a general audience, although some familiarity with political and historical issues of taxation and economics would be useful. Joseph Stiglitz argues for robust federal involvement in the economy, but also some measures that would reduce the damage that U.S. corporations do in the world. Some examples: Stiglitz's ideal government would tax the wealthy on a progressive scale, distribute food stamps, fund scientific grants, only use uncompetitive housing subs ...more
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fascinating collection of very readable articles by renowned economist Stiglitz. He argues that we can have both more equality and more economic growth, we need not choose between the two. The inequality in our country is not a natural result of any law of economics, but a result of our specific policies and politics. He critiques the free market fundamentalist logic and points out that in the United States, we privatize profits and socialize losses (especially after the 2007-09 Great Recessio ...more
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This should be a real book not a collection of articles.

There's a difference between OP-ED and books. The first can barely make references to studies or scientific results because there's little space for that.

A book, on the other hand, can include all the references to support an author claims. And this is what doesn't happen in this book.

Independent of the reader opinion on Mr. Stiglitz claims, the reader deserves to have the tools to judge by himself.

To be fair, Mr Stiglitz provides context
Rushdan Rozlan
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Collection of past articles, it analyse the inequality gap that cause recession and depression in America, the author elaborates what is the caused of inequality and summarise that equallity in opportunity is the major factor in deciding long term econimic growth.

Inequality of opportunity is shape by few factors including fiscal policy, monetary policy and politics.

This book also touch on the importance of regulations in the long run and summarise that the current inequality in America was caus
Adrian Kidd
Not so much a book as opposed to a collection of previously published articles. While each article in itself is eminently readable I ultimately missed the more nuanced and supported arguments that one would associate with an actual book. On top of this, the considerable overlap between articles leaves one wading through a lot of similar material in search of new ideas.

The collection of articles focus on inequality in modern economies, in particular the US, and argues that this inequality is lar
Csaba Hartmann
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
It’s a great book. The author uses a simple language to explain why inequality exists in the USA and what could have been done differently. There are many interesting ideas and explanations in the book, however I felt that the same ideas/stories kept coming back over and over again. The book is a collection of essays based on the author’s former work and that is I think the reason why there is so much repetition.
Ailith Twinning
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
As with any collection of articles, skip this if you remotely keep up with Stiglitz. If you don't tho, makes one hell of an introduction to moderate economics and politics. Way less hostile than folks like me.

Also, just, in the near-term I'm basically with Stiglitz. I don't want to destroy the world man, I want to strip out, clean, repair and replace every part of society in an endless process of upgrading. Like a computer -- or a car or a house if you have that kind of cash.
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved Stiglitz’s The Price of Inequality, and when I got this book, I thought it was a follow up. As others have mentioned, it’s not really a book but rather a collection of columns and articles he wrote for various publications throughout the late 2000s-mid 2010s.
While I still learned new information, some of the content became a bit repetitive toward the end of the book.
Graham Lewis
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting and insightful read, and continually relevant today as it was when published a few years ago. I would have liked a greater proportion of coverage on issues and circumstances outside the USA, and more about the economic principles at play, but this was not the intention of the book and so I could not have expected that to be in focus.
Peter White
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Book is a collection of articles, so lots of things get repeated. Stiglitz is a genius though.

Too nice to China (at end of day they’re still an authoritarian regime) but otherwise his concerns/ideas are important.
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Reading Along Wit...: Joseph Stiglitz, “The Great Divide” 1 10 Apr 20, 2015 06:39AM  

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Joseph Eugene Stiglitz, ForMemRS, FBA, is an American economist and a professor at Columbia University. He is a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001) and the John Bates Clark Medal (1979). He is also the former Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank. He is known for his critical view of the management of globalization, free-market economists (whom h ...more
“If a business borrows to buy a machine, it’s a good thing, not a bad thing. During the past six years, America—its government, its families, the country as a whole—has been borrowing to sustain its consumption. Meanwhile, investment in fixed assets—the plants and equipment that help increase our wealth—has been declining.” 3 likes
“Democracy, we now know, is more than periodic elections in some countries, such elections have been used to legitimize essentially authoritarian regimes and deprive large parts of the citizenry of basic rights.” 2 likes
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