Growing economic inequality: Responsible for desperate social exclusion and irreversible reality? Or just a myth?

We have the pleasure to invite you to the fourth edition of The European Match. Controversies and Encounters, taking place on 27 January 2016, 7 p.m., at the Diplomatic Academy (Festsaal, Favoritenstraße 15a, 1040 Vienna).

On the panel:

Lisa Herzog, economist at the Institut für Sozialforschung in Frankfurt am Main
Branko Milanovic, economist, senior scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study Center (LIS Center), former lead economist in the World Bank’s research department
Matthias Strolz, Co-Founder and Chairman of NEOS

Moderation: Hanno Settele, ORF journalist

The debates on social inequality and the problems it causes have become more heated over the past few years. Spearheaded by Thomas Piketty’s book Le Capital au XXI siècle [Capital in the Twenty-First Century] (2013) and the writings of British economist Anthony Atkinson, the discourse revolves around the major changes in business, culture and society resulting from the increasing inequality across the globe. In these discussions, the extreme differences in income, the steady increase in poverty and the unhindered expansion of the low-wage sector into an increasing number of industries are sometimes cited as causes, other times viewed as symptoms of this development. The media has also been examining this topic for some time and its discussions are based on tangible data. Contrary to previous studies, almost all analyses nowadays primarily focus on a phenomenon that is considered new and specific to the current situation: social exclusion resulting from inequality. Globalisation – an economic conquest strategy in a growth area without boundaries on the one hand and a global cultural machine via the Internet on the other – is pinpointed as the trigger and driving force of this development. Migration and its impact on the labour market seem to be both the result and the catalyst of globalisation.

Even politics, which has contributed its share to the current situation, must now deal with the topic of distributive justice. OECD studies document that massive social inequality is harmful to general economic development. The increase in inequality in the OECD area since the 1980s has led to declining growth rates of almost five percentage points of GDP in the long term. The growth-inhibiting effect can mainly be attributed to the increasing gap which separates the lowest 40 percent on the income scale from the rest. The situation in Europe is escalating. Within the EU, richer nations are leaving behind poorer ones and the differences between people’s living conditions are becoming more pronounced. Experts warn of extreme social polarisation and social tensions.

But what are actually the dangers caused by economic and social inequality? Do they threaten the foundations of social cohesion or even social peace? And how did it get this far in the first place? Is inequality actually an economic problem? How can we stop the gap between rich and poor getting wider? How much inequality can we expect society to put up with?

The event will be held in English.
Please register here!