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Applied Micro Workshop – Samuel Bowles, “The Origin and Future of Economic Inequality”

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Samuel Bowles and Mattia Fochesato: “The Origin and Future of Economic Inequality” What can we learn about the likely future trajectory of economic disparities from an understanding of the role of new technologies and institutions in the emergence of substantial inequality in wealth during the late Neolithic and Bronze Ages and its persistence to the present? We develop 228 estimates of wealth inequality over the past 11 millennia, measured to assure comparability across different asset types and demographic structures. Our data suggest that wealth disparities are no less in modern democratic and capitalist economies than in the autocratic societies of the past, excepting slave economies. Comparing across political-economic institutions, the only populations with notably less inequality are Neolithic and some later labor-intensive farming economies without a state organization exercising a monopoly on the use of force. Institutional differences other than slavery and the presence of states may account for differences in the inequality in income more through effects on redistribution than on wealth inequality. A more labor-limited knowledge- and care-based economy of the future may provide the economic foundations for a more egalitarian society.

Event details
What
  • Presentation
When Apr 16, 2019
from 16:00 to 17:30
Where briq, Seminar Room 9/1.1, Schaumburg-Lippe-Straße 9
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