** Inequality by Anthony Atkinson


Inequality is not the Piketty book (The Economics of Inequality), but it is also written by an economist who, laudably, attempts to identify solutions to the growing economic inequalities in the world, although he focuses mostly on the UK, where he lives, and to a lesser extent the US.

It’s difficult to imagine a duller book written for the general public. A good third of the book focuses on defining metrics for inequality. Of course there are many ways to define income and to compare incomes, but 100 pages seems a bit much. And the graphs are just horribly formatted. Surely there are ways to present the same information in a more attractive form.

The practical recommendations are just about as unattractive as the initial analysis. Can the author possibly believe that paying a basic income, no questions asked, to every citizen would pass the most basic political test? Still, the book has the immense advantage of carefully backing up each recommendation with detailed, quantitative data. It also reminds us that inequality is neither unavoidable nor incurable — though a more politically astute set of solutions would certainly be required.

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