Inequality amidst transformation
The initial intellectual project of EGC – to investigate processes of structural transformation – was, in large part, conceived of by Simon Kuznets. The EGC’s Country Studies Program delved into the dynamics of structural transformation and the mechanics of national accounting in newly independent countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Monographs associated with this program like Carlos Diaz-Alejandro’s work on Argentina highlighted the close links between trade, structural transformation, and levels of domestic inequality. These links were also echoed by Kuznets in his 1971 Nobel Prize acceptance speech: “[This] comment on the hidden costs and returns involved in the shift toward urban life may apply to many other costs and returns involved in other shifts imposed by economic growth, for example, in the character of participation in economic activity, in the social values, and in the new pressures on deviant members of society.”
We at EGC consider these questions part of the remit left to us by Kuznets and the Center’s other founders. As EGC affiliate Michael Peters reflects, “Kuznets’ conception of growth and structural change was much broader than what the current literature suggests. While ‘structural change’ and ‘changes in sectoral employment’ are often used interchangeably, Kuznets’ view was much more encompassing, stressing urbanization, formalization, marketization of household labor, and political participation. It is hard to think through these topics without having a concept of household, family, division of labor, etc., and we now are in the position to bring microdata to bear on these macro questions of structural change.”
August saw the launch of EGC affiliate Penny Goldberg’s monograph The Unequal Effects of Globalization (with contributions by Greg Larson) which provides a balanced and sobering discussion of globalization trends, their drivers, and effects on inequality.
This semester we are conducting a series of events to interrogate critical domains of modern transformation - labor markets and firms, the economic status of women, and the impacts of climate breakdown and the transition to clean energy on developing economies.
In August, we conducted the Gender and Growth Gaps in South Asia – Research and Policy Workshop – collaborating with Inclusion Economics India Center, the Udaiti Ffoundation, and the Asian Development Bank Institute – to discuss gender gaps in the economy in this region, with some of the largest gaps in labor market outcomes today.
In October, we will hold the 2023 Firms, Trade, and Development conference, in New Haven and London with a live simulcast online, co-hosted with the International Growth Centre (IGC). Sustainability will be a focus of Robin Burgess’s keynote address and a theme across the conference.
In November, we will hold the Yale Climate, Environment & Economic Growth Conference 2023, which will take a close look at the future of economic growth in the climate transition with a focus on adaptation processes, the renewable energy transition and the nature of growth in low- and middle-income countries. EGC will co-host this two-day event with the Yale School of the Environment and the Tobin Center for Economic Policy.
These events include videos you can watch on our website, and registration for online participation. I hope you will join us.
Henry J. Heinz II Professor of Economics
Director, Economic Growth Center