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Dec 17, 2014

Review Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Thomas Piketty’s 2014 Capital in the Twenty-First Century (translated from the 2013 French version) has clearly reinvigorated the debate about inequality, in particular in the Anglo-Saxon world. Prior to Piketty, many had already raised concerns about rising inequality, though the focus was largely on income from labour, with the highly remunerated CEOs as the lighting rod. Piketty equally shares these concerns, yet the contribution and buzz of his book comes predominantly from his longitudinal analysis of wealth inequality – gains from investments in stocks, land, property, etc., instead of income from labour. This is a much-needed contribution to the current debate, as wealth inequality tends to be even more skewed. Yet, it also comes with many challenges, as wealth is notoriously difficult to measure due to the variety of asset classes and the incentives and potential to hide wealth (in tax havens, for example)... [read the rest of this review on Allegra, a virtual lab of legal anthropology]