Skip to main content



The Political Economy of Inequality

Frank Stilwell

ISBN: 978-1-509-52868-4 May 2019 Polity 224 Pages

Out of stock


During the last few decades, the gap between the incomes, wealth and living standards of rich and poor people has increased in most countries. Economic inequality has become a defining issue of our age.

In this book, leading political economist Frank Stilwell provides a comprehensive overview of the nature, causes, and consequences of this growing divide. He shows how we can understand inequalities of wealth and incomes, globally and nationally, examines the scale of the problem and explains how it affects our wellbeing. He also shows that, although governments are often committed to ‘growth at all costs’ and ‘trickle down’ economics, there are alternative public policies that could be used to narrow the gap between rich and poor.

Stilwell’s engaging and clear guide to the issues will be indispensable reading for all students, general readers and scholars interested in inequality in political economy, economics, public policy and beyond.
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • Preliminaries
  • 1. Mind the Gap
  • 2. Incomes, Wealth, Poverty and Equity
  • Patterns
  • 3. Scales and Shapes of Inequality
  • 4. Shifting Shares
  • 5. Multi-dimensional Inequalities
  • Processes
  • 6. Explaining Who Gets What
  • 7. Driving the Disparities
  • Problems
  • 8. Hazards to Handle: Opportunities to Grasp
  • 9. Towards Happier Societies?
  • Policies
  • 10. Redistribution
  • 11. Progressive Pre-distribution
  • 12. A Global Challenge
  • Prospects
  • 13. Impediments to Equity
  • 14. Making the Future
  • References
  • Index
'This is a very valuable book that will be helpful to anyone studying economic inequality. It contains an admirably clear overview of the causes, nature and consequences of inequality, and perceptively analyses the policies that could tackle the growing gap between rich and poor.'
Gabriel Zucman, University of Berkeley, California

'Concerns about the scale and impact of inequality are growing, around the world and across different academic disciplines.  Frank Stillwell sets out, in a clear and comprehensive guide, everything you need to know about the causes and consequences of economic inequality, as well as the changes needed to create a more equal world.'
Kate Pickett, University of York