cover image The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them

The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them

Joseph Stiglitz. Norton, $27.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-393-24857-9

Nobel Prize%E2%80%93winning economist Stiglitz's collection of recent essays is a fine, if at times repetitive, look at the steady increase in income inequality throughout the world over the past several years. Stiglitz (The Price of Inequality) contends that a number of U.S. policies created in the last 30 years have contributed both to this phenomenon and to the Great Recession. He also argues that trickle-down economics and the "too big to fail" arguments of the financial industry have led the U.S. down a dangerous path that disrupts innovation, lowers life expectancy, and will cripple the country economically for the next few decades. He proposes any number of solutions that would reduce income inequality and the power of the wealthiest 1% but also seriously increase the scope of government. The essays are grouped thematically into different sections with titles like "Dimensions of Inequality" and "Policy." While many would work perfectly well as standalones, when grouped together they risk boring the reader with redundant background information. That said, with this book Stiglitz has succeeded in breaking down complex economic concepts into language that educated laypeople can understand, and readers will be fascinated by his ideas. (Apr.)