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Inequality and Occupy Wall Street 8: causes of growing inequality and policies to address it

December 7, 2011

This video of a panel discussion called “The Challenges of Growing Inequality” organized by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University features a discussion by Lawerence Katz, a prominent labour economist. Katz speaks on the causes of inequality and offers advice to Occupiers on what should be done about it.

The video runs for one hour and twenty minutes, but the first 3 1/2 minutes in which the moderator, David Ellwood, introduces the topic shouldn’t be missed. Katz starts talking at 8 minutes 15 seconds on causes of inequality, and again at 34 minutes on policy options. But the entire discussion by the other panelists is interesting, touching on families, minimum wages, education, wage subsidies in addition to the behaviour and incentives of top earners. These panelists include the demographer Kathryn Edin, the sociologist William Julius Wilson, and the economist Edward Glaeser

Much of the policy discussion Katz addresses to both the top 1%, but also the lower end of the earnings distribution, echo some aspects of the five point tax plan I discussed in a previous post, and are also addressed in Chapter 9 of the very thorough and careful report released by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation Development, a Paris based think tank for the governments of the rich countries) earlier this week.

The panelists finish talking at about 44 minutes, and the rest is a question and answer period. Toward the end, at 1 hour 10 minutes, there is a discussion of the importance and political implications of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

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