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Inequality Workshop

April 14, 2018 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Inequality Workshop

14 April 2018 | 9am

Global Education Center 2008-10

Open to the public

The workshop will explore rising inequality in affluent democracies, both its forms and its drivers. We know from recent work on very long term changes in income inequality, at the top of the distribution by Piketty, and over the whole distribution by Milanovic (as measured by the Gini index), that income inequality fell from World War I to the early 1980s when it began to increase. Despite a general trend towards rising inequality since the early 1980s, there are marked differences between countries in the strength of this trend as well as differences in the pattern of increasing inequality. For example, top income shares (1%, 0.1%) increased in Anglo-American countries, and most steeply in the US and UK, but little in continental European countries and not at all in Germany. By contrast, the incidence of low pay (defined as less than 2/3 of the median wage) and the 50-10 wage ratio increased steeply in Germany, but hardly at all in Switzerland.

The ranking of welfare state regimes on almost any measure of market income inequality and poverty, as well as disposable income inequality and poverty has been relatively stable since the mid-1980s, with the Liberal Welfare States (Anglo-American countries) being the most unequal followed by the Southern Europe Welfare States, the Christian Democratic Welfare States (continental Europe), and with the Social Democratic Welfare States (Nordic countries) being the most equal. Nonetheless, within regimes, important changes have taken place. For example, as noted previously, the increases in inequality within the Liberal Welfare States, both at the top and across the distribution were greatest in the UK and US and, while the increases in top income shares were greatest in the US, the increases in disposable income Gini were greatest in the UK, arguably because the cuts in the welfare state were much greater under Thatcher/Major than under Reagan/Bush. Another example is the greater increase in market income inequality at the bottom in Sweden as compared to Denmark, caused, arguably, by the persistence of higher unemployment in Sweden since the economic crisis of the early 1990s.

Please visit our page on hotels and travel for more information on local transportation and lodging. For further information contact John Stephens, Director of the Center for European Studies.


Participants and Topics

  • Kaitlin Alper and John D Stephens (University of North Carolina), “Poverty and Inequality at the Bottom End of the Distribution”
  • Klaus Armingeon and David Weisstanner (University of Bern), “Objective conditions count, political beliefs decide: The conditional effect of relative income on demand for redistribution”
  • Dustin Avent-Holt (Augusta University) and Anthony Rainey (University of Massachusetts-Amherst), “Producing Inequalities: An Examination of the Workplace Generation of Earnings Inequalities in Thirteen High Income Countries.”
  • David Brady (University of California-Riverside), “Theories of the Causes of Poverty”
  • Evelyne Huber, Bilyana Petrova, and John D. Stephens (University of North Carolina), “Financialization and Inequality in Coordinated and Liberal Market Economies
  • Nathan Kelly (University of Tennessee), “America’s Inequality Trap”
  • Nathan Kelly and Jana Morgan (University of Tennessee), “Buying Words: How Campaign Donations Influence the Congressional Economic Agenda”

Workshop papers are available. To request access, please email John Stephens.

UNC Faculty Organizers

  • Evelyne Huber — Chair and Distinguished Professor, Department of Political Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • John Stephens — Director, Center for European Studies & Gerhard E. Lenski, Distinguished Professor of Political Science & Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


April 14, 2018
9:00 am - 5:00 pm


Fedex Global Center #2008-2010
301 Pittsboro St
Chapel Hill, NC 27514 United States
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