"The disposition to admire, and almost to worship,
the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least,
to neglect persons of poor and mean condition
is the great and most universal cause of
the corruption of our moral sentiments."
Adam Smith (1723-1790)
Inequality is divisive and socially corrosive. For centuries, many people recognised that truth intuitively, but now the data show it is truer than we ever imagined. The bigger the income gaps between rich and poor, the less cohesive the society: community life weakens, people trust each other less and violence increases.
In the lead article, Nick Shaxson, John Christensen and Nick Mathiason explain why studies of economic inequality have systematically underestimated the wealth and income enjoyed by the world’s wealthiest people.
In the following articles, Danny Dorling examines how tax changes in recent decades have contributed to rising inequality in the United Kingdom; David Erdal explores how wealth distribution has nothing to do with markets: it is a result of the use of power; and Thomas Pikkety, Emmanuel Saex and Stefanie Stantcheva find that chief executive officers are consistently rewarded for good outcomes which are directly due to a good industry-wide climate, and hence are not achieved by hard work.
The Inequality edition is available for download here