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Political Economy of Distribution

Inequality and distribution—areas underserved by mainstream economics—sit at the heart of The Institute’s work. This program brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines to develop alternative approaches to the problem of inequality.

Most mainstream approaches towards inequality explain growing inequality primarily as a labor market phenomenon conditioned by one of four developments: (1) skill-biased technological change; (2) liberalization of labor markets; (3) winner-take all markets for “superstars”; and (4) globalization, where this is taken primarily to mean increased competition for unskilled labor. We bring together researchers to offer a complementary but neglected hypothesis: that historically changing institutions, legal frameworks, and structural features of the economy are key causes of inequality.