Poverty and income inequality

Taxing, spending, and inequality

Benedict Clements, David Coady, Ruud de Mooij, Sanjeev Gupta, 15 April 2014

The causes and consequences of rising inequality have stirred a lively debate on appropriate policy responses. This column reviews how governments have successfully used fiscal policy to address distributive concerns. It also examines the policy alternatives that countries can pursue in order to reduce income and wealth inequality at a minimum cost to efficiency. Such policies include exploitation of property taxes, reductions in tax deductions that favour upper-income groups, investing in increasing the human capital of low-income groups, and reforming social benefits.

What's in a name? Quite a lot it seems

Gregory Clark, 4 April 2014

Gregory Clark talks to Viv Davies about his new book titled "The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility". Using surname data from eight countries, the study concludes that fate and social status is determined by ancestry and that social mobility rates are lower than conventionally estimated, they do not vary across societies and are resistant to social policies. Effectively, capitalism has not led to pervasive, rapid mobility. The interview was recorded in London in March 2014.

The chartbook of economic inequality

Tony Atkinson, Salvatore Morelli, 26 March 2014

Inequality – long ignored – is now centre stage in debate about economic policy around the globe. This column introduces the Chartbook of Economic Inequality, a summary of long-run changes in economic inequality for 25 countries over more than 100 years.

Six fiscal reforms for the UK’s ‘lost generation’

John Muellbauer, 25 March 2014

The generation born in the UK after 1979 has suffered grave disadvantages. By the early 2000s, housing had become very expensive relative to income; since 2007, labour market conditions for new entrants have been poor. University fees have increased, and soaring public debt will in future have to be serviced by this self-same generation. Restorative justice is one of the aims of the six fiscal reforms proposed in this column.

Controlling UK executive pay

Ian Gregory-Smith, Steve Thompson, Peter Wright, 24 March 2014

In 2003, the UK adopted a ‘say on pay’ policy, whereby quoted companies’ executive compensation offers have to be put to a shareholder vote. This column presents evidence that this policy has had a relatively modest impact on executive pay. A 10% increase in compensation is associated with an increase in shareholder dissent against the proposal of just 0.2%. However, remuneration committees representing the more highly rewarded CEOs are quite sensitive to dissent, provided it exceeds a critical threshold of about 10%. Shareholders do not appear more anxious about pay since the crisis.

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