Our Inequality Dossier – what to read and where?

Development Policy,Inclusive Economy14 Dec 2012The Broker

Welcome to The Broker Dossier on inequality. The core of the Dossier is formed by three articles by editors from The Broker team. These articles aim to give you a clear idea of what inequality is about and offer you a bird’s eye view of the debate. Other articles spotlight specific dimensions of inequality. Most of the articles have been co-read by academics and specialists in the field. The Dossier will be kept up to date and supplemented by an online debate.

Core articles

Putting inequality on the map (by our editor Sara Murawski), explains what we mean by inequality and how it relates to poverty and growth. The article focuses on how inequality is measured and what countries and regions are more or less unequal. It also looks at the growth of the middle classes worldwide, a significant phenomenon in addressing inequality.

Stalling growth and development (by our editor Naomi Woltring), takes an in-depth look at the economic and social consequences of inequality. It explains why inequality hinders sustainable economic growth, allows rich people a disproportionate share of political power, and fosters violence and criminality. Unequal societies also have lower life expectancies and suffer more from diseases than more equal societies.

Embracing inclusive growth (by our editor Evert Jan Quak), explores the effectiveness of economic policies in combating income inequality. If economists and policy makers agree that inequality harms sustainable economic growth, what would be the best next steps to take? Is redistribution enough or do we need to go further and change the concept of economic growth that takes equality as a starting point for future economic growth?

When do inequalities cause conflict? (by Rens Willems, Centre for Conflict Studies at Utrecht University, the Netherlands) analyses the truth of the notion that, when there are large inequalities between rich and poor, the poor become frustrated and organize themselves to gain a better economic position, if necessary, by means of violence. The article also focuses on possible solutions to prevent conflict.

Human inequality puts sovereign equality to the test (by Janne Nijman, Department of European and International Law and Amsterdam Center for International Law) dicusses how the tensions between sovereign equality and human equality have become inherent in international law, and why they will continue to shape and reshape international organisation.

How the World Bank, IMF and OECD changed their course. Or did they? focuses on the changing discourse on inequality as it has become a popular topic in the area of contemporary policy making. The article investigates the value of the recent change in the debate, and what its underlying motivations might be in the cases of the World Bank, the IMF and the OECD.

Rage against the machine takes a look at the massive protests, mainly in the Western world, organized by the Occupy movement. The movement’s vocabulary refers directly to inequality.

On 28 November, the Broker attended an exclusive meeting of the Prince Claus Chair in Development and Equity, chaired by Her Royal Highness Princess Máxima of the Netherlands. Read the report in Equity or equality?

The Broker organized its first Broker Day on the 31st of January, as a follow-up to the Inequality Dossier and Inequaltiy Debate. A room full of experts discussed the policy steps that the international community must take to reduce inequality worldwide. Read the report The Broker Day on inclusive growth.

The Conference Board of Canada explains why income inequality has increased over the past 20 years in Canada. See Rising income inequality in Canada.

Janne Nijman argues that the notion of sovereign equality as the foundation of the international legal order is showing creaks and squeaks. Read Human inequality puts sovereign equality to the test.

On his website The other Africa, photographer Philippe Sibelly portrays the growing middle class in Africa. To make this emerging class more visible we have published a series of photos by Sibelly.

Different institutions use different definitions and different indicators when talking about inequality. Here is a table with the definitions used by UNRISD, UNCTAD, OECD, UNICEF, World Bank, IMF, Oxfam and ECLAC.

During our research for this Special Report, we came across a large number of reports relevant to inequality. You can read short summaries of these reports in this document. We also found a lot of interesting videos, which we gathered together on our video overview page. Highlights include talks by Joseph Stiglitz, Richard Wilkinson and Al Gore.

We used Twitter to inform our audience about what we were doing and interesting information that we came across. You can follow us on twitter here.


Here you can find short biographies of the experts in the field of inequality who co-read the editorial articles: Arjan de Haan, David Sogge, Nicky Pouw, Shobha Raghuram, Stephan Klasen, Georg Frerks, Chris van der Borgh, Berma Klein Goldewijk and Wil Hout.