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Inequality in the 21st Century:A Critical Analysis of Piketty`s Work


  • Nadia Garbellini

    (Universita di Bergamo)


Thomas Piketty`s (2014) Capital in the XXI Century aims to analyze distributions of income and wealth in a set of developed countries and their determinants, from the nineteenth century to the present. The objective is a bold one, made even more so by the fact that Piketty pursues it not only from a theoretical, but also, from an empirical point of view. The task is particularly impressive not only because of the enormous effort required in collecting and organizing data, but also because the work entails attaching a deterministic interpretation to facts and figures from radically different countries over a time span that covers almost two centuries, thereby forcing comparison between numbers coming from clearly incommensurable contexts. These difficulties are not lost to Piketty, who states that ``[w]ithout precisely defined sources, methods, and concepts, it is possible to see everything and its opposite.`` (Piketty, 2014, pp.2-3) This study argues that the empirical `methods and concepts` adopted by Piketty are not always consistent with those coming from his reference theoretical framework, nor from National Accounts (United Nations, 2009).

Suggested Citation

  • Nadia Garbellini, 2018. "Inequality in the 21st Century:A Critical Analysis of Piketty`s Work," Working Papers Series 69, Institute for New Economic Thinking.
  • Handle: RePEc:thk:wpaper:69

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. A. Cohen & G. Harcourt., 2009. "Whatever Happened to the Cambridge Capital Theory Controversies?," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 8.
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    1. Joseph Halevi, 2021. "Book review: Mauro L Baranzini and Amalia Mirante, Luigi Pasinetti: An Intellectual Biography," The Economic and Labour Relations Review, , vol. 32(1), pages 134-138, March.

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    More about this item


    Capital; Capital output ratio; Income distribution; Inequality; Growth theory; National accounts.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • E20 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D33 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Factor Income Distribution

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