Articles on Inequality

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Children and families wait in line, as holiday gifts and toys are distributed to underprivileged children at the Fred Jordan Mission in Los Angeles December 21 2013. Phil McCarten/Reuters

It’s not a lack of self-control that keeps people poor

Does the definition of self-control – choosing long-term over short-term outcomes – even make sense for people who are short on time, money or both?
French economist and author Thomas Piketty. His book on inequality has lessons for developing economies such as South Africa. EPA/Bart Maat

What South Africa can learn from Piketty about addressing inequality

Inequality remains one of South Africa's major problems. Thomas Piketty's visit to the country provides an opportunity to explore ways to deal with this problem.
We jump to conclusions that there must be a reason one’s a ‘have’ and one’s a ‘have-not.’ Benjamin Disinger

Life’s not fair! So why do we assume it is?

It's human nature to assume there must be a valid reason for inequalities in society. What's the psychology behind why we believe there's something fundamentally different between haves and have-nots?
Unused cooling towers overlooking an informal settlement in Soweto. A new study suggests that poverty in South Africa is actually higher than the figures usually quoted. Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

How current measures underestimate the level of poverty in South Africa

A review of South Africa's methodology to measure poverty shows that 60% of people in the country are poor. This is way higher than the figures that are usually quoted.
Joe Hockey’s approach to reform would be to treat voters as consumers, with promises of lower taxes and more wealth. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Social stability is the missing link underpinning economic growth

Good societies with secure public systems will increase investment much faster than company or personal tax cuts.
Unemployment is the main concern for about half of South Africa’s poor population while the other half is concerned about low earnings or the poor quality of work. Reuters/Jon Herskovitz

How high unemployment has eclipsed the plight of South Africa’s working poor

One in five workers in South Africa is poor. The plight of the working poor has wide implications. Employers have a responsibility to ensure a minimum level of decent wages.
The poor and the middle class will be the hardest hit if the South African government increases the value-added tax. Shutterstock

South Africa needs to raise taxes: why a VAT increase would be a bad idea

The South African government should weigh its decision carefully whether to increase value added tax (VAT) as indirect taxes fall most heavily on the poor and the middle class.
Most of us can’t bend it like Beckham, for various reasons. But is that necessarily the worst thing? Reuters/Ben Nelms

Why equality of opportunity is neither possible nor desirable

Rather than hold on to the idea of equality of opportunity, it might be more accurate to say that we don’t really support it because it comes at too high a price.
What does Lady Justice stand for? Wikimedia

What’s wrong with inequality?

One of the great issues of our day is inequality. Whether it is the Greek debt crisis, anxieties about Sydney real estate prices, the continuing resonance of “Occupy” and cries about the “1%”, or the publishing…
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jay Gatsby in the The Great Gatsby. Jay’s story has been used by economists to explain the combination of unequal distribution of income and less economic mobility. Reuters/Andrew Kelly

Apartheid continues to cast shadow on equality of opportunity

Evidence on the ability, or lack thereof, of children to rise above the economic status of their parents shines light on the continued persistence of inequality, including in South Africa.

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