From the Editor’s Desk (September 2014)

29 September 2014

Tony Addison

As the Finnish autumn embraces us, we can reflect on a very successful conference on ‘Inequality: Measurement, Trends, Impacts and Policies’, held in Helsinki on 5-6 September. UNU-WIDER welcomed 350+ people from all over the world, with an especially good turnout of early-career researchers. This included many from Africa. Meanwhile, I launched myself into twitter (@TonysAngle) and I do urge you to follow us here @UNUWIDER for the very latest news.

Participants in the Inequality – measurement, trends, impacts and policies conference. Photo: Alexander Zach / UNU-WIDERSeptember’s issue of Angle contains a full report on our inequality conference by Roger Williamson. We debated all aspects of the issue, including the drivers of the recent rise in inequality, and what can be done, policy-wise, to reduce it. Presentations, papers, videos, can be found here. 

The use of inequality data was a very large part of the conference, and you can see from the website that a big effort was made to compare the different databases available to researchers. The latest update to our World Income Inequality Database (WIID) is here. Work on WIID began when Giovanni Andrea Cornia was UNU-WIDER director, and Andrea’s new book for UNU-WIDER on Latin American inequality can be found here.

GuestAngle this month features Andrés Solimano on ‘Economic Elites, Crises and Austerity in 21st Century Capitalism’. The book could not have come at a better time, with debate raging on the sharply widening gap between the economic elite and everyone else in society. Andrés led our UNU-WIDER project on the Mobility of Talent.

In ResearchAngle, we feature UNU-WIDER work on state-building in Sierra Leone, and taxation and inequality in Latin America. Supporting financial management in fragile states is an area in which, if delivered effectively, foreign aid can play a crucial role, as the case of Sierra Leone shows. In Latin America, a shift to a more progressive taxation system in the early 2000s has been a significant factor behind the region's recent decline in inequality. 

Our VideoAngle has an interview on foreign aid with Finn Tarp, UNU-WIDER’s director. See also the new working paper by Channing Arndt, Sam Jones, and Finn Tarp on the aggregate return from aid. The Economist recently had a short piece on aid, which referenced our ReCom position paper on ‘Aid, Growth, and Employment’. This is a comprehensive review of aid’s growth impact, and calls for donors to give more attention to helping countries create jobs, especially at scale. There is also a summary of ReCom results in the context of the post-2015 discussion: ‘what do we know about aid as we approach 2015’.

We have now published over 110 working papers in 2014. The topics include: the rise of Africa’s middle class; behavioural economics in development policy; engaging with fragile states; ideological biases in Africa’s development; promoting women’s economic empowerment; child labour, social protection; and Tanzanian manufacturing.

If you missed our June conference on ‘Institutional Reforms for Transformation, Inclusion and Sustainability’ in Hanoi, with Vietnam’s Central Institute for Economic Management, then you can watch the videos of the sessions here.

We are now getting ready for this year’s WIDER annual lecture, which will be given by Peter Timmer of Harvard University, at the UN in New York on 18 November. Our October issue of Angle will have more news on this exciting event. 

Tony Addison is Chief Economist-Deputy Director, UNU-WIDER. Follow him on twitter at @TonysAngle.

WIDERAngle newsletter
September 2014
ISSN 1238-9544
© CC BY 3.0 IGO