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Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century: An Overview


  • Grantham George

    () (Department of Economics, McGill University, 24 Chemin Bates, Apt 201, Montreal, QC, Canada H2V 1A8)


Thomas Piketty’s capitalism in the twenty-first century is arguably the most significant book in empirical economics since Simon Kuznets’s Modern Economic Growth (1966) and, on a theoretical plane, since Keynes’s General Theory (1936). Like Kuznets’s masterpiece, this massive report on long-term trends in shares of income and wealth in the top decile and centile percent of their distribution quantifies a crucial and until now underreported dimension of aggregate economic performance. Like Keynes’s, it raises fundamental questions about economics conceived as a science uniquely concerned with the allocation of scarce resources regardless of how the resources are distributed among individuals. Piketty’s study focuses on that distribution, and in particular the share of the 10% of individuals who currently own 50–60% of private wealth in western societies and take home 35–50% of the national income (Piketty, 2014, pp. 247–249). The findings are new.

Suggested Citation

  • Grantham George, 2015. "Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century: An Overview," Basic Income Studies, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 7-28, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bistud:v:10:y:2015:i:1:p:7-28:n:10

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-484, July.
    2. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    3. Gregory Clark, 2007. "The long march of history: Farm wages, population, and economic growth, England 1209-1869 -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 60(1), pages 97-135, February.
    4. Daunton, Martin, 2007. "Wealth and Welfare: An Economic and Social History of Britain 1851-1951," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198732099.
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