onsdag 26 januari 2011

Varför är ekonomisk ojämlikhet problematiskt?

The Economist ställer frågan - är den ökande ekonomiska ojämlikheten ett problem? Mark Thoma, Daron Acemoglu m fl svarar.

Acemoglu, mycket bra:
"There are three main reasons why society may care about inequality. First, people's well-being may directly depend on inequality, for example, because they view a highly unequal society as unfair or because the utility loss due to low status of the have-nots may be greater than the utility gain due to the higher status of the haves. Second and more importantly, equality of opportunity may be harder to achieve in an unequal society. Many economists have, by and large rightly, focused more on poverty than inequality. Poverty not only causes low standards of living and poor health but damages both individuals and society by preventing those at the bottom from realising their potential, perhaps because they are unable to obtain a decent quality of education to prepare them for competition in the labour market. While poverty is clearly the more important factor in creating a non-level playing field, inequality may also be a nontrivial factor: those with greater wealth provide to their children resources and thus opportunities that the less wealthy cannot, and this may make it more difficult for society to achieve equality of opportunity.

Third and most importantly, inequality impacts politics. Economic power tends to beget political power even in democratic and pluralistic societies. /.../"
Daron Acemoglu, "Economic Power Begets Political Power", The Economist Free Exchange 23 januari 2010

Uppdatering 3 april
Joseph Stiglitz förklarar i Vanity Fair varför USA:s nuvarande nivå av ojämlikhet är negativ för landets ekonomiska utveckling. Tre orsaker:
"An economy in which most citizens are doing worse year after year—an economy like America’s—is not likely to do well over the long haul. There are several reasons for this.

First, growing inequality is the flip side of something else: shrinking opportunity. Whenever we diminish equality of opportunity, it means that we are not using some of our most valuable assets—our people—in the most productive way possible. Second, many of the distortions that lead to inequality—such as those associated with monopoly power and preferential tax treatment for special interests—undermine the efficiency of the economy. This new inequality goes on to create new distortions, undermining efficiency even further. To give just one example, far too many of our most talented young people, seeing the astronomical rewards, have gone into finance rather than into fields that would lead to a more productive and healthy economy.

Third, and perhaps most important, a modern economy requires 'collective action'—it needs government to invest in infrastructure, education, and technology. The United States and the world have benefited greatly from government-sponsored research that led to the Internet, to advances in public health, and so on. But America has long suffered from an under-investment in infrastructure (look at the condition of our highways and bridges, our railroads and airports), in basic research, and in education at all levels. Further cutbacks in these areas lie ahead."
Joseph Stiglitz, "Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%", Vanity Fair

1 kommentar:

Jan Wiklund sa...

Jo, det finns ju till och med en bok om detta - Jämlikhetsanden.

En faktor som inte står nämnd i den är en som en uruguayansk bekant nämnde. Efter att ha levt i exil i Sverige i många år hade han sparat ihop pengar som han tänkte satsa på att starta ett företag i Uruguay. Men det visade sig vara svårt. Uruguay är så fullt av gränsvaktande - båda parter på arbetsmarknaden tycks lägga ner mer tid på att markera motstånd mot varandra än på att arbeta - att mycket lite blir gjort.

Sett ur ett ensidigt ekonomiskt perspektiv kan detta knappast vara effektivt.