Inequality – A battle lost but a war won? A dissenting view

By Carlos Fortin on the IDS Globalisation and Development blog:

“Claire Melamed’s recent Guardian blog on the High Level Panel Report fairly sums up the reaction of many progressive commentators to the Report’s treatment of the issue of inequality.

‘Inequality campaigners’- she writes – ‘seem to have lost the battle but won the war’.

The battle lost is about an inequality goal: the Report does not propose one. The war won is about a comprehensive approach to inequality and discrimination and their perverse effects on opportunities and poverty, an approach which, it is argued, the Report embraces.

I beg to differ on both points. On the battle lost, as Claire Melamed herself remarks, adopting a quantitative goal at this stage would raise tricky problems of measurement. The Gini index may well be –with apologies to Winston Churchill – the least worst measure of inequality, but it is still a pretty crude instrument, useful as a working tool but not to be elevated to yardstick for a major commitment of the international community. Not having a quantitative goal based on it at this point may perhaps not be that bad.”

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