Why is there such a large gap between the richest and the poorest?
Nobel Laureate Robert M. Solow explored why some economies grow much faster than others; and why economic growth is stagnant in some parts of the world, while elsewhere there’s been rapid industrialization. He argued that there was no economic need for such a sharp contrast between the world’s ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, and firmly believed that economics could be used to improve equality.
Does wealth always improve your life?
There’s no question that achieving equality is one of the world’s most important and complicated challenges. But how do we measure poverty? And will money always make people happier?
Acknowledging the disparity of wealth in the world, Nobel Laureate Sir Angus S. Deaton says money isn’t always the answer to inequality – especially when people’s lives can be improved by better healthcare and education. In fact, financial aid can make things worse.
Why do some countries get stuck in poverty?
Growing up in St. Lucia during the First World War, Nobel Laureate Sir Arthur Lewis had firsthand experience of the ‘have nots’, as the country was very poor and still dealing with the aftermath of slavery.
He described an economy with a modern capitalist sector and an under-developed sector - which led to inequality and lower wages. His work on economic development, and why some countries get stuck in cycles of poverty, challenged the thinking of the time.
Can we rewrite the rules of our economy to achieve equality?
Nobel Laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz says there’s no easy overnight way to do this. But he also says that if we wrote the rules to make the economy more unequal, we should now be able to rewrite them too.
Can we use tax to make things fairer for the many?
Laureate Sir James A. Mirrlees is an expert in development economics, and developing systems that create fairness for everyone in society.
"It’s about getting rid of poverty and poor education", he says. "To make the poorest well-enough off, you have to take money from the rich."
Though, he concedes, this is a simplistic viewpoint that doesn’t take into account the real world.