Poverty and income inequality

Branko Milanovic, 06 May 2015

Our level of income is unarguably dependent on where we live in the world. But evidencing this is tricky. This column presents a model that explains global income variability using one variable only – where you live. The results suggest that we might want to reassess how we think about both economic migration and global inequality of opportunity.

Orazio Attanasio, Costas Meghir, Corina Mommaerts, 01 May 2015

The significance of informal sources of insurance against income risk has important consequences for the design of social insurance programs. A particular concern is that public programs simply crowd out informal institutions. This column uses US household data to investigate whether the extended family acts as such an informal institution. Although there is a large potential for the family to insure against income shocks, no such insurance occurs. 

Alan J Auerbach, Kevin Hassett, 03 March 2015

Piketty's justification for his proposed wealth tax relies on the notion that the rate of return on capital exceeds economic growth. This column challenges this basis, arguing that it fails to account for risk. The authors also examine the relative merits of a consumption tax, which may be more valid.

Montfort Mlachila, René Tapsoba, Sampawende Tapsoba, 21 February 2015

Despite the consensus that growth alone does not need to lead to better social outcomes, a formal quantification of the quality of growth is still missing. This column seeks to bridge this gap by proposing a new quality of growth index that captures both the intrinsic nature and the social dimension of growth. This index could legitimately be part of the benchmarking tools for guiding policies toward more inclusive growth.

Jason Furman, 20 February 2015

The US economy has strengthened considerably in recent years, presenting an opportunity to address the 40-year stagnation in incomes for the middle class. This column provides historical and international context for the key factors affecting middle-class incomes: productivity growth, labour force participation, and income inequality. It also outlines President Obama’s approach to economic policies – what he terms “middle-class economics” – which is designed to improve all three.

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