Understanding inequality and why it is important

My presentation to the All Party Anti-Poverty Caucus of the Canadian House of Commons addressed three questions: (1) has inequality increased in Canada; (2) what explains the changes; and (3) why is it important for public policy?

I pointed out to the members of the Caucus that:

  1. Inequality has been rising in Canada since the early 1980s, driven by stagnant and declining incomes in the middle and lower half during the 1980s and 1990s, and rising top shares throughout the last 30 years.
  2. The tax-transfer system plays an important role in reducing inequality, but has not kept pace after about the mid 1990s.
  3. Rising inequality is a global phenomenon. The change in Canada has been above average when compared to other rich countries, and particularly notable for the increase in top shares.

I also suggested that while we might be interested in these changes because of a sense of fairness or because of concerns over economic efficiency, we should also be interested because inequality shapes opportunity, and that this may be a reason why all parliamentarians—regardless of their political allegiances—should treat it as an important issue for public policy.

You can download the English version here: Understanding_inequality_and_why_it_is_important_a_presentation_to_the_All_Party_Caucus

And the French version here: Understanding_inequality_and_why_it_is_important_a_presentation_to_the_All_Party_Caucus_en_francais