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The open‐and‐shut case against inequality

Jan Vandemoortele

Development Policy Review, 2021, vol. 39, issue 1, 135-151

Abstract: Motivation The case against inequality should be open‐and‐shut. Evidence shows that the happiest and healthiest people live in countries with low inequality. Yet, the argument that inequality constitutes perhaps the most pressing challenge the world faces today is an idea whose time has not yet come. Purpose Since the impact of inequality extends well beyond the economic realm, the scope of analysis must be broadened, taking a multidisciplinary perspective, including historians, sociologists, psychologists, moral philosophers and political scientists. Approach and methods Mostly a concise summary of the main findings of the literature and research from a wide range of disciplines. Findings The findings in these different disciplines must be brought together and complemented by deliberate efforts to convey them to the public at large. They show that inequality has a deep and far‐reaching influence on people and society. Policy implications Inequality will not be brought down by paying more lip service to it or by conducting more research that stays in an ivory tower. Only if we come to understand that inequality engenders near universal harm will we muster the courage to address it. Equity‐adjusted averages must replace standard statistics on human development.

Date: 2021
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