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Towards Human DevelopmentNew Approaches to Macroeconomics and Inequality$
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Giovanni Andrea Cornia and Frances Stewart

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198706083

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198706083.001.0001

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The Strange Neglect of Income Inequality in Economics and Public Policy*

The Strange Neglect of Income Inequality in Economics and Public Policy*

(p.99) 6 The Strange Neglect of Income Inequality in Economics and Public Policy*
Towards Human Development

Robert H. Wade

Oxford University Press

The obvious answer to why income and wealth inequality has long been sidelined in Western public policy is that the rich have a vested interest in boosting issues for public attention that do not question their position and in marginalizing those that do. This chapter goes behind the obvious answer to examine: changes in ruling-class coalitions; the worries of the middle classes; economists’ defence of inequality; the tactical choices of centre-left political parties; and other factors. It concludes by spelling out how analysts on the centre-left can help to build a cross-class consensus for a more equal society by providing a sound intellectual basis for advocating more equal outcomes than exist in the Anglo-American societies. The dominant view in the latter is well summarized by Robert Lucas: ‘[O]f the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive and ... poisonous is to focus on questions of distribution.’

Keywords:   income inequality, wealth inequality, class interest, Anglo-American society, egalitarian society, political strategies

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