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Is Equality Good for Everybody? Evidence on Income Inequality, Social Ills and Human Capabilities From Europe

Julkaistu 15.12.2016


In political discourse, ideas go in cycles. Sometimes these cycles are longer; sometimes they are shorter. In the building period of a welfare state, equality was one key concept, and political discourse was fermented by ideas of abolishing inequalities and creating more just societies. Gradually, the pendulum began to swing, and more critical voices emerged against the endeavour to diminish inequalities. The welfare state was considered to have gone too far and thus to have abolished the natural instinct to be entrepreneurial. The welfare state was accused of being a hammock seducing people to remain lazy. Furthermore, it was argued that when enhancing economic growth, the growth itself more or less automatically improves the conditions for the least advantaged in society. Thus, according to this trickle-down theory, we do not need to worry about inequalities since economic growth would also help the least advantaged precisely as a tide lifts all boats. The trickle-down theory has been proposed in many important institutions (International Monetary  Fund, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Bank, among others) and by prominent politicians such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. 

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Olli Kangas, Ilari Kolttola

Lisätietoja julkaisusta

  • Vertaisarvioitu: kyllä.
  • Avoin saatavuus: kyllä.
  • Koko viite: Kangas, O., & Kolttola, I. (2016). Is equality good for everybody? Evidence on income inequality, social ills and human capabilities from Europe. Finnish Journal of Social Research, 9, 61–69.

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