The past 50 years of global income statistics reveal a dramatically altered landscape of economic winners and losers in both rich and poor nations. Incomes soared for factory workers in China. Yet the urban-rural divide in that country widened. At the same time, working-class incomes in post-industrial economies stagnated, and rich nations reported a hollowing-out of the middle class. While within-country inequality rose for wealthier nations, global inequality, by some reports, has declined.
This tutorial will explore competing economic views on why these changes occurred, whether they will persist, and what they portend for democratic institutions and economic prosperity. We ask whether mechanical economic forces are driving these trends in a manner that defies policy intervention or whether policy can make a difference.
Throughout the course, we consider a variety of proposals for addressing dislocation linked to high and rising inequality within and between nations. Our exploration will require us to address economic issues of refugees, migration and citizenship along with economic factors behind trends toward plutocracy and nativism.