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Review Essay

How Should Governments Address Inequality?

Putting Piketty Into Practice

In This Review

After Piketty: The Agenda for Economics and Inequality
After Piketty: The Agenda for Economics and Inequality
Edited by Heather Boushey, J. Bradford DeLong, and Marshall Steinbaum
Harvard University Press, 2017, 688 pp. Purchase

In 2014, an unusual book topped bestseller lists around the world: Capital in the Twenty-first Century, an 816-page scholarly tome by the French economist Thomas Piketty that examined the massive increase in the proportion of income and wealth accruing to the world’s richest people. Drawing on an unprecedented amount of historical economic data from 20 countries, Piketty showed that wealth concentration had returned to a peak not seen since the early twentieth century. Today in the United States, the top one percent of households earn around 20 percent of the nation’s income, a dramatic change from the middle of the twentieth century, when income was spread more evenly and the top one percent’s share hovered at around ten percent. Piketty predicted that without corrective action, the trend toward ever more concentrated income and wealth would continue, and so he called for a global tax on wealth

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