Causes and Consequences of Wealth Inequality

Rising wealth inequality is a reality in a great many countries today.  In this environment, many people are asking what factors have driven this phenomenon and whether rising wealth inequality is undermining democracy.  In this project, NYU scholars from a broad range of disciplines will collaborate to investigate the causes and consequences of wealth inequality.  Researchers from NYU’s departments of economics, philosophy, and politics will produce new historical data, survey evidence, and theoretical insights to investigate the problem.  Preliminary findings from the group call into question certain existing ideas.  A first finding is that the factors that drive wealth inequality are very different from those that produce inequalities in earnings.  This highlights the need to study wealth and earnings inequality separately.  A second finding is that the relationship between wealth inequality and democracy is different than one might think.  It might seem natural that democratic governance would produce lower wealth inequality, but very often this is not the case.  Finding out why this is the case is a critical question for future research by project members.

Principal Investigator: David Stasavage (Dean for the Social Sciences; Julius Silver Professor, The Wilf Family Department of Politics, NYU)

Project Members:

Anthony Appiah (NYU, Philosophy)

Jess Benhabib (NYU, Economics)

Alberto Bisin (NYU, Economics)

Alessandra Peter (NYU, Economics)

Kenneth Scheve (Stanford, Political Science)

Melissa Schwartzberg (NYU, Politics)

David Stasavage (NYU, Politics)

Daniel Viehoff (NYU, Philosophy)