The negative implications of inequality are manifold. While devastating for individuals at the bottom of the ladder, evidence also shows that an unequal society causes the economy as a whole to suffer.
Focusing on experiences in Germany, this essay makes the urgent case for public intervention to alleviate the causes, not just the symptoms, of inequality.
It argues that life chances – as determined by wealth, earning potential and educational opportunity – must be more equal in order for society to be equipped to take advantage of technological and scientific progress. To fail to make them so risks damaging a nation’s competiveness in an increasingly globalised world.
About the authors
Matthias Machnig is state secretary at the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
Oliver Schmolke is head of planning at the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
They are senior advisers to Sigmar Gabriel, the leader of the SPD, minister for economic affairs and energy, and vice-chancellor of Germany.