How inequality undermines institutions

Economic inequality has spiked in many countries in the last several decades, raising questions about whether policy should do more to combat it. Until scholars such as Thomas Piketty put economic inequality on the public agenda, a common view among policy analysts and government officials was that economic inequality was not a matter of moral concern, as long as the least well-off received adequate resources to satisfy their basic needs (which Debra Satz and Stuart White call the ‘sufficiency’ view) (Frankfurt, 1987). This view has come under pressure in recent years. But the questions of what is wrong with inequality, and what is the best way to address it, remain highly contested.

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