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Making the Most of Capital in the 21st Century

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  • Peter H. Lindert

Abstract

Thomas Piketty's monumental Capital in the Twenty-First Century has transported us to a higher understanding of historical movements in inequality. This essay ranks the promise of different paths that scholars can usefully follow from the point to which his book has guided us. The main path to follow is the income inequality history so well paved by Piketty and his team, supported by the book's history of twentieth-century shocks and political responses. Less promising is the book's emphasis on wealth, capital, and the rate of return. Following the income route to better inequality predictions requires merging his team's history of top income shares with the history of inequality movements within the lower 90 percent. It also invites a merger with other scholarship that has shown positive growth effects of the kind of democracy Piketty calls for.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter H. Lindert, 2014. "Making the Most of Capital in the 21st Century," NBER Working Papers 20232, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20232
    Note: DAE
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w20232.pdf
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Inequality, economics and politics – Thomas Piketty at the Bank of England
      by Diane Coyle in The Enlightened Economist on 2014-12-21 00:10:40

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Guido Alfani, 2017. "The rich in historical perspective: evidence for preindustrial Europe (ca. 1300–1800)," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 11(3), pages 321-348, September.
    2. repec:bla:revinw:v:62:y:2016:i:4:p:785-791 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Haldane, Andrew & Shanbhogue, Rachana & Attanasio, Orazio & Besley, Timothy & Lindert, Peter & Piketty, Thomas & Ventura, Jaume, 2015. "Capital in the 21st century," Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin, Bank of England, vol. 55(1), pages 36-46.
    4. Guido Alfani & Matteo Di Tullio, 2015. "Dinamiche di lungo periodo della disuguaglianza in Italia settentrionale: una nota di ricerca," Working Papers 071, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative

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