Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Roundtable: Inequality Solutions: A Roundtable Discussion of Sir Tony Atkinson's 2015 Book,
(Social Equity)

Friday, November 13, 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Brickell North (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Roundtable Organizers:  Janet Gornick, Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality
Moderators:  Janet Gornick, The Graduate Center at the City University of New York
Speakers:  Michael Strain, American Enterprise Institute, Timothy Smeeding, Institute for Research on Poverty and Sheldon Danziger, Russell Sage Foundation

This proposed Roundtable will begin with a brief video presentation by Sir Tony Atkinson, summarizing key conclusions in his new book, "Inequality: What Can Be Done?".(Professor Atkinson, unfortunately, cannot attend due to illness.) The discussants on the Roundtable will then assess the policy package that is at the heart of the book, focusing on policy implications for the United States. "Inequality", which will be published by Harvard University Press in May 2015, is already being translated into eight languages. It is sure to be a high profile book, one that many APPAM attendees will be familiar with and that others are likely to want to learn about. Harvard describes the book as follows: "Inequality is one of our most urgent social problems. Curbed in the decades after World War II, it has recently returned with a vengeance. We all know the scale of the problem — talk about the 99% and the 1% is entrenched in public debate — but there has been little discussion of what we can do but despair. According to the distinguished economist Anthony Atkinson, however, we can do much more than skeptics imagine. Atkinson has long been at the forefront of research on inequality, and brings his theoretical and practical experience to bear on its diverse problems. He presents a comprehensive set of policies that could bring about a genuine shift in the distribution of income in developed countries. The problem, Atkinson shows, is not simply that the rich are getting richer. We are also failing to tackle poverty, and the economy is rapidly changing to leave the majority of people behind. To reduce inequality, we have to go beyond placing new taxes on the wealthy to fund existing programs. We need fresh ideas. Atkinson thus recommends ambitious new policies in five areas: technology, employment, social security, the sharing of capital, and taxation. He defends these against the common arguments and excuses for inaction: that intervention will shrink the economy, that globalization makes action impossible, and that new policies cannot be afforded. More than just a program for change, Atkinson’s book is a voice of hope and informed optimism about the possibilities for political action."
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