Combatting Economic Inequality

Combatting Economic Inequality

Kate Pickett

In this video, Kate delves into the crucial need for reducing economic inequality to foster societal health and sustainability. She also explores strategies like progressive taxation and addressing tax havens to uncover pathways to redistribute wealth more equitably.

In this video, Kate delves into the crucial need for reducing economic inequality to foster societal health and sustainability. She also explores strategies like progressive taxation and addressing tax havens to uncover pathways to redistribute wealth more equitably.

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Combatting Economic Inequality

11 mins 29 secs

Overview

Reducing economic inequality is crucial for societal health and sustainability. Achieving equality levels like those in Scandinavia is possible, as inequality is not fixed and changes with policy. Strategies include progressive taxation and tackling tax havens, which could redistribute wealth more fairly. Economic democracy through employee ownership and representation, unions, and cooperative models can reduce pre-tax income disparities, making equality more culturally ingrained. Businesses and individuals play a role through ethical practices and activism. Embracing economic democracy and supporting policies that promote equality can lead to a more equitable, sustainable future, aligning with global goals like the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 10.

Key learning objectives:

  • Understand how we can reduce inequality

  • Understand the benefits of labour empowerment

  • Outline how businesses, employees and individuals can contribute to reducing inequality

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Summary
What are the two main strategies through which we can reduce inequality? 
Inequality can be reduced through redistribution via taxes and benefits, and by minimising pre-tax income differences. 

Redistribution involves progressive taxation and adjusting benefits to distribute wealth more evenly. Addressing tax avoidance, especially in tax havens, is crucial in this strategy. 

Reducing pre-tax income disparities involves promoting economic democracy, like employee ownership and fair wage structures. Both approaches, either individually or combined, are effective in creating a more equal society.

What are the benefits of labour empowerment, such as unions?
Labour empowerment through unions offers several benefits. Unionised workers typically enjoy higher pay, better benefits, and safer work conditions. Unions contribute to reducing income inequality by advocating for fair wages and rights, especially for marginalised groups. 

They help close racial and ethnic wage gaps and improve overall workplace well-being. Union membership historically correlates with lower income inequality, as unions negotiate better terms for workers, contributing to more equitable income distribution.

How can businesses, employees and individuals contribute to inequality reduction? 
Businesses can adopt ethical practices, ensuring fair pay, closing gender and ethnic pay gaps, and meeting corporate tax obligations. They can embrace economic democracy models like B Corps or cooperatives, prioritizing stakeholder interests over just shareholder profits. Employees can advocate for changes within their organizations, promoting corporate activism. Individuals can support inequality reduction by choosing to prioritise ethical businesses, engaging in active citizenship, voting for political parties committed to tackling inequality, and participating in campaign groups. Collectively, these actions can significantly contribute to reducing income inequality.

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Kate Pickett

Kate Pickett

Kate Pickett, a Professor of Epidemiology at the University of York, is also the director of Health Equity North and associate director of the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity.

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