Economic Justice in an Unfair World: Toward a Level Playing Field

Princeton University Press
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Recent years have seen a growing number of activists, scholars, and even policymakers claiming that the global economy is unfair and unjust, particularly to developing countries and the poor within them. But what would a fair or just global economy look like? Economic Justice in an Unfair World seeks to answer that question by presenting a bold and provocative argument that emphasizes economic relations among states.

The book provides a market-oriented focus, arguing that a just international economy would be one that is inclusive, participatory, and welfare-enhancing for all states. Rejecting radical redistribution schemes between rich and poor, Ethan Kapstein asserts that a politically feasible approach to international economic justice would emphasize free trade and limited flows of foreign assistance in order to help countries exercise their comparative advantage.

Kapstein also addresses justice in labor, migration, and investment, in each case defending an approach that concentrates on nation-states and their unique social compacts. Clearly written for all those with a stake in contemporary debates over poverty reduction and development, the book provides a breakthrough analysis of what the international community can reasonably do to build a global economy that works to the advantage of every nation.

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About the author

Ethan B. Kapstein is the Paul Dubrule Professor of Sustainable Development, INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France; and a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development, Washington, D.C. He is also a Senior Adviser to the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, and, during 2003-2006, a Transatlantic Fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Dec 16, 2010
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9781400837595
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Development / Economic Development
Business & Economics / Economics / Comparative
Business & Economics / International / General
Political Science / Globalization
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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America is becoming a class-based society.

It is now conventional wisdom to focus on the wealth of the top 1 percent—especially the top 0.01 percent—and how the ultra-rich are concentrating income and prosperity while incomes for most other Americans are stagnant. But the most important, consequential, and widening gap in American society is between the upper middle class and everyone else.

Reeves defines the upper middle class as those whose incomes are in the top 20 percent of American society. Income is not the only way to measure a society, but in a market economy it is crucial because access to money generally determines who gets the best quality education, housing, health care, and other necessary goods and services.

As Reeves shows, the growing separation between the upper middle class and everyone else can be seen in family structure, neighborhoods, attitudes, and lifestyle. Those at the top of the income ladder are becoming more effective at passing on their status to their children, reducing overall social mobility. The result is not just an economic divide but a fracturing of American society along class lines. Upper-middle-class children become upper-middle-class adults.

These trends matter because the separation and perpetuation of the upper middle class corrode prospects for more progressive approaches to policy. Various forms of “opportunity hoarding” among the upper middle class make it harder for others to rise up to the top rung. Examples include zoning laws and schooling, occupational licensing, college application procedures, and the allocation of internships. Upper-middle-class opportunity hoarding, Reeves argues, results in a less competitive economy as well as a less open society.

Inequality is inevitable and can even be good, within limits. But Reeves argues that society can take effective action to reduce opportunity hoarding and thus promote broader opportunity. This fascinating book shows how American society has become the very class-defined society that earlier Americans rebelled against—and what can be done to restore a more equitable society.

“It is impossible to grasp the meaning of the idea of sound money if one does not realize that it was devised as an instrument for the protection of civil liberties against despotic inroads on the part of governments.” – from The Theory of Money and Credit

Originally published in 1912, Ludwig von Mises’s The Theory of Money and Credit remains today one of economic theory’s most influential and controversial treatises. Von Mises’s examination into monetary theory changed forever the world of economic thought when he successfully integrated “macroeconomics” into “microeconomics” —previously deemed an impossible task —as well as offering explanations into the origin, value and future of money.

One hundred years later, von Mises and the Austrian school of economic theory are still fiercely debated by world economists in their search for the solution to America’s current financial crisis. His theorems continue to inspire politicians and market experts who aim to raise up the common man and reduce the financial power of governments. In a preface added in 1952, von Mises urges the people of the world to see economic truth:

“The great inflations of our age are not acts of God. They are man-made or, to say it bluntly, government-made. They are the off-shoots of doctrines that ascribe to governments the magic power of creating wealth out of nothing and of making people happy by raising the ‘national income.’”

“The best book on money ever written.” —Murray Rothbard, economist and historian

“The greatest economist of the twentieth century.” —Sandeep Jaitly, economist
The sweeping political and economic changes of the past decade—including the spread of democracy, pro-market policies, and economic globalization—have dramatically increased the demand in developing countries for social programs such as unemployment compensation, pensions, and income supplements for the poor. When Markets Fail examines how emerging market economies in Eastern Europe, Latin America, North Africa, and the Middle East are shaping their social policies in response to these changes.

The contributors—leading scholars of development and social policy—use detailed case studies to examine whether the emerging economies are likely to move toward European-style welfare systems, characterized by high unemployment benefits and large entitlements, or if they will opt for more austere, stripped-down welfare regimes. They find that much will depend on how well emerging economies perform economically, but that the political forces, ideological preferences, and historical backgrounds of each country will also play a decisive role. In his chapter on Central and Eastern Europe, Peter Lindert focuses on how aging populations and the fall of communism have fostered increased need for social assistance in the region. In contrast, Nancy Birdsall and Stephen Haggard highlight the positive role of democratization and Western-style social programs in promoting East Asian social policies. Zafiris Tzannatos and Iqbal Kaur argue that governments in North Africa and the Middle East must foster both human capital formation and competition in the market for social services if they are to meet the growing need for services.

When Markets Fail presents some evidence that a global convergence in social policies may be taking place: as Europe slowly makes its welfare provisions less generous, the emerging market economies will be under increasing demographic and political pressure to make their social welfare systems more comprehensive. The book also examines the vital role that organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Development Bank can play in fostering effective social services in developing economies.

Economic globalization and political liberalization have produced many economic winners around the world, but these forces have created losers as well. When Markets Fail addresses the problem of how governments in developing countries have responded to the plight of those losers through social policy. The success of these policies, however, remains sharply contested, as is their role in helping to achieve meaningful poverty reduction. When Markets Fail is essential reading for anyone interested in economic liberalization and its consequences for the developing world.

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