Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 147


© 2017 by the author.

Open access



Increasing economic inequality in recent years has triggered an outpouring of analysis and reflection on the causes and consequences of these changes. Several commentators have argued that inequality does not merit all the attention it has been receiving noting that the focus on inequality can divert attention from the real problem, which is poverty. This article reviews the arguments for and against this position, highlighting the effects of economic inequality on economic growth and efficiency, politics and democracy, individual behaviors that result in poor health outcomes and social disruption, social cohesion, and environmental degradation. Poverty is, of course, a very important social issue but this review of the arguments about inequality shows that economic inequality in itself is also an important social ill that should be addressed.