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Rising inequality in the EU : the elephant in the room


  • Xavier Timbeau

    (Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques)

  • Lars Anderson

    (Economic Council of the Labour Movement (ECLM))

  • Christophe Blot

    (Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques)

  • Jérôme Creel

    (Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques)

  • Andrew Watt

    (Macroeconomic Policy Institute (IMK))


Rising inequality is the elephant in the European room: everybody knows it is there and that it is an obvious problem, but no one wants to either discuss the problem or address it. Macroeconomic issues have taken the front seat, andinequality might be dropped in the conversation when it has relevance from a macroeconomic perspective: maybe we should reduce inequality to fight secular stagnation (Fitoussi and Saraceno, 2011), especially because inequality can be self-reinforcing through secular stagnation; maybe we should reduce inequality toenhance growth in a world of credit-constraint households, because growth is the final goal of our policies (Birdsall et al. 1996). The fact that, maybe, we should aim for socio-economic equality for itself and not for some other macroeconomic objective seems to have disappeared in th epresence of other urgencies. Paradoxically, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century has spurred a global debate, but not a European one. The Capital is on everybody’s lips from New-York to Hong-Kong through Rio, but not in Brussels—although it is in everybody’s mind, hence the Elephant in the Room. But, perhaps it is so because Piketty has placed attention on high and very high income, which is less of a subject in stagnatingeconomies.

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  • Xavier Timbeau & Lars Anderson & Christophe Blot & Jérôme Creel & Andrew Watt, 2015. "Rising inequality in the EU : the elephant in the room," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/87ina65fc9v, Sciences Po.
  • Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/87ina65fc9viadvbqng3gukjp

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Xavier Timbeau, 2013. "Comment construire (au moins) 1 million de logements en région parisienne," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(2), pages 315-340.
    2. Paul Krugman, 1998. "Space: The Final Frontier," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 161-174, Spring.
    3. Milanovic, Branko, 2009. "Global inequality and global inequality extraction ratio: The story of the last two centuries," MPRA Paper 16535, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Milanovic, Branko, 2009. "Global inequality and the global inequality extraction ratio: the story of the past two centuries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5044, The World Bank.
    5. Thomas Piketty, 2013. "Le capital au XXIe siècle," Post-Print halshs-00979232, HAL.
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