The problem of optimal inequality
Sukharev Mikhail Valentinovich
PhD in Economics, Senior Research Fellow
Russia, Institute of Economics of the Karelian Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The article provides an overview of modern publications on the problem of social inequality. On the one hand, social equality (especially in post-socialist countries) is perceived as a desirable ideal. On the other hand, everyone understands that people are unequal both by nature (genetically) and by their activity, and they need incentives to work. But how great should this inequality be? History teaches that many societies have been destroyed by social tensions caused by too much inequality. Consequently (and ancient thinkers agreed with this), there is a certain level of inequality that is optimal for the life of society. The problem is to establish this level. But for this you need, firstly, to learn how to measure it and, secondly, using this measure, explore enough different communities to understand what level of inequality is optimal. The third important condition is to accept the correct criterion of optimality; today it is the rate of economic growth (because the advantage in the rate of growth makes the community richer than others in a historically short time). Modern economics is in a unique situation: never in history has there been such accurate information about inequality and the economic situation in so many countries and regions. An analytical review of the existing literature is the first step towards solving the optimal inequality problem.
social inequality, economic development, social institutions, modeling, human capital.
The article was prepared within the framework of the state assignment of the KarRC RAS on the topic “Institutions and social inequality in the context of global challenges and regional restrictions”.
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