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Can you change your mind about inequality? Read my just published paper

December 9, 2016

The Pope has strong views about inequality because he has a theory, and doesn’t need data.

pope-francis-tweet-inequality-is-the-root-of-social-evil

One of Canada’s most prominent pundits has strong views about inequality because he has data, and doesn’t need theory.

andrew-coyne-tweet-november-24-2016-inequality-is-an-utter-crock

I’ll probably never convince either of them to change their views, but maybe I can convince you with both theory and data.

Give me the chance by reading my just published paper, Inequality is the root of social evil,’ or Maybe Not? Two Stories about Inequality and Public Policy.”

I tell two stories about inequality. The first is from the perspective of those who feel it is not a problem worth the worry, and the second from the perspective of those who see it as “the defining challenge of our time.” I tell these stories to clarify their underlying logic, but also to clarify both the challenges facing Canadians and our understanding of what public policy should do about them.

But I have another motive. I would like you to appreciate the value of economic theory and statistical methods to a public policy discussion of this sort. It seems to me that without an appreciation of some basic elements of theory and measurement, it is too easy for the policy conversation to go astray.

Download a free copy from the publisher’s website—Canadian Public Policy, December 2016—and tell me what you think.

 

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One Comment
  1. rgpedroza permalink

    I enjoyed reading your paper, it was quite accessible even for a grad student not trained in economics. I’ll have to take another dive and look at the notes and the figures in the appendix. Still, you convinced me that inequality is both an outcome and causal force, but not necessarily the root of social evil as the Pope suggests.
    One aspect particularly interesting and important for me is your mention about how immigration depresses the wage rate at the lower end of the skill distribution. I know there’s plenty of literature discussing the net effects of low skill immigration (e.g., in the US, Borjas vs. Peri-Yasenov), but do you have any recommendations dealing with high skill immigration?
    I am aware George Borjas has some publications on high skill immigration in the US. However, he strikes me as a biased source, and I am under the impression that the Canadian economic immigration programs are used quite differently from the American H-1B visa program.
    Thanks and Happy Holidays!

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