Fixing Europe’s Income Inequality

As part of a wider policy response to the Global Financial Crisis, the European Union is in the process of forming policies designed to reduce income inequality in the region. In a growing number of countries, the threat of severe poverty is starting to emerge.

Social welfare programs come easily to the fore in Europe, as the EU lacks the kind of concerted political opposition to such programs as grew in the U.S. during the Cold War. Domestic political coalitions in Scandinavia, Germany, France, Spain and Greece have helped make government largess the primary means of delivering economic justice. As Greece has discovered, down that path lies danger.

In the book Life after Lisbon, Christian van Stolk and his colleagues suggest that the EU would be unwise to rely on forced income redistribution as a means of addressing the problem. Instead, the authors urge Brussels to focus instead on maximizing opportunity and productivity for individuals, and they offer a course of action to achieve that.

As Europe’s budgets come under pressure, approaches like these are likely to have a greater effect on policy than they might have had even five years ago. As such, this book provides an interesting look into how Europe my rethink its labor, economic, and industrial policies in the coming years.

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