Reducing Income Disparities and Polarization

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Income inequality has been a creeping problem in Canada and other advanced economies for many years now. Yet income polarization has not, up until now, been a big issue on the federal agenda.

It is time for the federal government to analyze and consider the longer term effects of income polarization, and to consider strategic policy reforms to head off a looming problem.

Income inequality is at a record high in the OECD countries. In the US it has become a major issue in the presidential campaign, even amongst Republicans, and is now viewed as the most divisive social issue in the country.

There is little agreement on the causes of income inequality, though globalization and the technology revolution likely contribute. A key conclusion of the recent OECD report, Divided We Stand, is that inequality is not inevitable and that policy measures makes a real difference to the distribution of income.

and issues

Research: Are we ready for universal childcare in Canada?

Is Canada ready for a universal childcare system? If so, what does ‘universal’ look like? Canada’s current childcare system is a fragmented and patchwork landscape that has been recognized internationally as a serious human development concern. Set against the backdrop of increased media and policy attention to social mobility, Canada 2020′s Analytical Commentary No. 6 focuses on the relationship between income inequality, equality of opportunity and universal childcare.

Summer Reading: Reports on equality, mobility, education and more

With Parliament Hill adjourned for the summer, Ottawa is a much quieter place, giving us time to catch up on a number of fantastic reports that have been published by organizations in our network. We have scoured the web and come back with six must-read reports to add to your summer reading list. Featuring work from the Brookings Institution, the Center for American Progress, the International Institute for Sustainable Development and more.

Event Summary: Panelists get to grips with the Canadian dream

Over 350 people came out to the Château Laurier Hotel on February 26 where they were treated to a lively, progressive and sometimes contentious debate about the various options for governmental action to help ensure continued economic mobility in Canada.

Opinion: Productivity and pay – why Canadians are (somewhat) better off

Comparing ourselves with the United States is a national pastime in Canada. Sometimes the comparison makes us look good (health care, public education). Sometimes it makes us look bad (consumer prices, productivity). Sometimes it reveals an altogether more nuanced story. Sadly, we often miss the nuance.

Opinion: Inequality – defining the defining issue of our time

Diana Carney analyses the facts, figures and sentiment behind our growing concern with inequality. The story is not as simple as one might think.

Opinion: Venus and Mars Align – Income Inequality Agendas in France and America

When the President of the most anti-government country on earth and the President of the country that invented dirigisme are …

Opinion: Inequality at the top of everyone’s agenda

Not two years ago, income inequality was a pretty obscure topic. Not so today.
Earlier this year the World Economic Forum …

Capacity crowd attend income inequality panel

Ottawa  – The  gap between rich and poor is at a record high, according to a new global economic study, …

Income inequality: a top global risk

Inequality of income is one of the hot button issues of our time. 2011 saw the rise of the Occupy …

Corak: Is the U.S. Still a ‘Land of Opportunity’?

BY: Miles Corak, University of Ottawa.

Corak examines economic mobility in the US vs. Canada.
Canada is still more economically mobile than …


April 28, 2014

Daron Acemoglu: Why Nations Fail

Speakers: Daron Acemoglu

Zanny Minton Beddoes, Economics Editor, The EconomistMiles Corak, Professor, University of OttawaRon Haskins, Senior Fellow, Brookings InstitutionCarolyn Acker, C.M., Founder, Pathways to Education
February 26, 2013

The Canada We Want in 2020 Speaker Series: Equality of opportunity – a Canadian dream?

Speakers: Zanny Minton Beddoes, Carolyn Acker, C.M., Diana Carney, Miles Corak, Ron Haskins

January 19, 2012

The Canada We Want in 2020: Income Disparity and Polarization

Speakers: Alessandro Goglio, Andrew Sharpe, Chrystia Freeland, Mark Cameron, Sherri Torjman

Canada 2020, Canada’s Progressive Centre, hosted a private luncheon featuring Dr. Kenneth Rogoff, Economics Professor at Harvard University and author of the New York Times Bestselling book, “This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Economic Folly” on Friday, June 11, 2010 in Ottawa.
January 17, 2011

Canada 2020 Luncheon with Prof. Ken Rogoff

Speakers: Kenneth Rogoff

Featured Links

IMF Chief on “inclusive capitalism”

Read Christina Lagarde’s address to the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism, entitled “Economic Inclusion and Financial Integrity.” Click here.

Mark Carney warns of growing income inequality

Former Governor of the Bank of Canada, and current Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney warns of growing …

Martin Wolf on Thomas Piketty: Capital in the 21st Century

Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Editor of the Financial Times, reviews Thomas Piketty’s ground-breaking new book Capital in the 21st Century. Read …

Graves & Lang: growth, but the right kind of growth?

Frank Graves and Eugene Lang take a closer look at StatCan’s data and sees signs of trouble for Canada’s middle …

How to be a true progressive

Insights into inequality in America: to be a true progressive, Barack Obama should borrow ideas from the Republicans. Read here.

“The rungs of the ladder are moving farther apart”

New research on social mobility in the U.S. suggests equality of opportunity is increasingly scarce. Watch the PBS interview with …

The politics of global inequality

Wherein the focus on inequality goes global – and why that matters in the long-run. Andrew Norton’s thoughts here.

Stiglitz: In No One We Trust

Joseph Stiglitz, Professor of Economics at Columbia University, shares his thoughts on on inequality here.

Why Nations Fail: Friedman on Daron Acemoglu’s book

Read Thomas Friedman’s take on Daron Acemoglu’s new book, Why Nations Fail in the New York Times.

Inequality moves to “front of the line” in US politics

FT takes a look at the growing prominence of the inequality debate in America politics – echoes of which are …

How to stay ahead of the Gatsby curve

Canada 2020 Research Advisers Miles Corak and Mark Stabile write about the intergenerational aspects of inequality. The Globe & Mail.

Early Childhood Achievement Gaps and Social Mobility

Excellent briefing from our friends at the Brookings Institution on the importance of early childhood education interventions. Read it here.

The Conservatives’ economic stability message becoming a myth: Tim Harper

From the Toronto Star: Tim Harper explores the Harper government’s middle class credentials.

Opening up the middle class: Brookings

The Brookings Institution has an insightful commentary on the nuances behind public policy aimed at social mobility. Read it here.

Road to prosperity leads through the middle class

Chrystia Freeland, friend of Canada 2020 and author of Plutocrats writes in today’s Globe & Mail about the path to …

Who’s your daddy?

Friend of Canada 2020, Miles Corak, explores the intergenerational aspects of mobility in this New York Times commentary piece. Read …

In climbing the income ladder, location matters

A new study comparing inequality across metropolitan areas in the U.S. shows when it comes to climbing up the income …

Is Inequality Inhibiting Growth?

Is income inequality at the root of the financial crisis? Raghuram Rajan explores the role inequality played in the recent …

Politics and the shrinking middle class

Who is the middle class in Canada? Paul Adams argues in iPolitics that the middle class has disappeared everwhere except …

Unpaid internships exploit ‘a vulnerable generation’

Reporting from the roundtable discussion on unpaid internships that Canada 2020 participated in last week. Read about it here.

Strategies for assisting low-income families

The Brookings Institute in the U.S. has a new paper out, focusing on strategies for assisting low-income families. Read it …

When Labor Is Flexible, and Paid Less

Chrystia Freeland of Reuters, and former Canada 2020 speaker, discusses the implications of deregulated labor markets for the middle class. Read …

Thirteen Economic Facts about Social Mobility and the Role of Education

The Brookings Institute has a new report out that’s an extremely interesting read: Thirteen Economic Facts about Social Mobility and …

Schooling Ourselves in an Unequal America

Rebecca Strauss of the Council on Foreign Relations argues that education spending in the U.S. is skewed towards wealthy children. …

Rock and roll economics

… and the rebuilding of the middle class. A speech from White House Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers …

The Munk Debate – Taxing the rich

The Munk Debate’s most recent debate, ‘Taxing the rich’ is available for streaming at On the pro side: Paul …

Bold Calgary plan aims to cut poverty in half

André Picard discusses Calgary’s new ambitious plan to cut poverty by half in the next decade. The plan reiterates the …

Higher productivity and greater equality

What we can learn from Norway and the role that education and childcare play in that country’s success, from the …

The great divide: global income inequality and its cost

Global Post’s feature site on income inequality is both informative and visually engaging.

The Economic Story of the Year: The Stock Market vs. the Labor Market

Derek Thompson of the Atlantic explains why the income inequality schism is here to stay. Read it here.

Canada 2020′s Diana Carney on The West Block with Tom Clark

Our Vice President of Research Diana Carney sat down with The West Block’s Tom Clark to talk rising income inequality. …

Being a teen parent will cost you

From the Washington Post: NYC’s latest advocacy push focuses on teenage pregnancy and links to poverty.


Great read on how employment credit checks perpetuate inequality of opportunity by Demos, an American think tank. Read it here.

Giving the Young a Bigger Say

Dr Miles Corak discusses giving children the vote in the New York Times - a policy prescription explained in Miles Corak’s paper published by …

New report on precarious employment and the impact on poverty

In a new report, United Way Toronto examine the problems created by the increasingly precarious nature of employment.

Video: Wealth inequality in America

Interesting viral video making its way around the web, illustrating wealth inequality in America. Watch it here.

Stacked Deck: New Demos Report on elites and economic mobility in the US

This report details the growing political influence of the rich and how that is serving to undermine the American dream.

Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth

Economics Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz discusses the myth of the American dream in the NY Times. Read it here.

New York Times: Incomes flatten, but not for the 1%

New York Times feature on the flattening of incomes during recovery for all but the top earners. Read it here.

Repairing the rungs of the ladder: social mobility in America

An instructive look at social mobility in America – with lessons for Canada – in The Economist. Read it here.

Nomencracy: social mobility over generations

The work of Canada 2020 panelist and research adviser, Miles Corak, is featured in The Economist, February 9. Read it here.

Freeland: Theorizing about taxing high earners

Chrystia Freeland in today’s New York Times, “Theorizing about taxing high earners.” Great article, read it here.

Miles Corak’s take on the rich, their taxes and what matters

Following the release of new Statistics Canada data, we have seen a good deal of commentary on income inequality: does …

If you have ever wondered about the Gini coefficient…

here’s a nice primer with a bit of history and discussion of U.S. inequality too.

Inequality and growth in the U.S.

Joe Stiglitz argues in the New York Times that continued inequality in the U.S, is holding back the recovery for …

An interesting look at inequality, globally

….with some great graphics including an interactive map of gini coefficients across the world. The Ford Foundation funded project shows …

US wages and inequality

Two thoughtful pieces on this problem. Steven Greenhouse, writing in the New York Times, analyses the declining share of GDP …

Economy Lab: Income disparity poses biggest threat to global economy

From the Globe’s Economy Lab, Tavia Grant reports from the World Economic Forum that income disparity is the largest threat …

Forthcoming Canada 2020 panelist on economic mobility in the US

Ron Haskins and Scott Winship from the Brookings Institute look at the facts on middle class incomes and mobility in …

The debate over income inequality

Miles Corak, forthcoming Canada 2020 panelist, provides context for readers of the recent TD report on inequality in Canada.

TD Economics Special Report on Inequality

From TD Economics, a special report on inequality in Canada and the U.S. – ‘A Tale of Two Countries’ (PDF)

How to slide down the Great Gatsby curve…

In a paper published today, 5 December, Miles Corak, who will be part of Canada 2020′s February panel on equality …

Buffett: A minimum tax for the wealthy

Warren Buffett has called for a minimum tax for the wealthy in the New York Times. Read it here.

Skidelsky: Inequality is killing capitalism

Robert Skidelsky, Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Warwick University, writes that inequality is killing capitalism. Read it on Project …

How the land of opportunity can combat inequality

Larry Summers suggests shifting the focus to equality of opportunity, highlighting the importance of public education.

Martin Feldstein: US unlikely to avoid fiscal cliff

The Financial Times’ Martin Feldstein explains why the US is unlikely to avoid the oncoming fiscal cliff. Read it here …

Canadian wellbeing dropped 24% between 2008 and 2010

And the modest economic recovery does not seem to be helping much. New figures from the University of Waterloo’s second Canadian …

The Economist focuses on inequality

In its latest issue, The Economist calls for an agenda of True Progressivism to tackle growing inequality.

Chrystia Freeland: Global solutions needed to save middle class

Chrystia Freeland explores the global solutions required to save the increasingly squeezed middle class.

Chrystia Freeland: Why do America’s super rich feel victimized by Obama?

Canada 2020 author and friend Chrystia Freeland explores in the New Yorker why America’s super rich feel victimized by President …

A Look at U.S. Income Growth

A look at U.S. income growth, care of Marginal Revolution; an important visual for Canadians.

Joseph Stiglitz; voice for the have-nots

A compelling profile on Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz and his career arc from ‘voice in the wildnerness to people’s prophet.’

Health of poorer Canadians deteriorating; new poll shows

The health status of poorer Canadians is deteriorating, a new Canadian Medical Association survey shows. This issue lies at the …

Joseph Stiglitz on the true cost of income inequality

From Chatham House in the U.S., Dr. Joseph Stiglitz argues that disparities between the 1% and 99% affect not only each other, …

Listen: CBC’s “Left Behind” series on inequality

Listen to Julie Eisen’s “Left Behind”, a series on the growing divide between Canada’s rich and poor. Part 1 here, and Part …

Further comment on Putnam’s new research from David Brooks

Brooks highlights the policy implications of Putnam’s findings about the increasing chasm between less wealthy and more wealthy kids.

The long climb from inequality

Margaret Wente discusses Robert Putnam’s latest findings about inequality and lack of mobility in the US.

Samuel Brittan reviews Stiglitz’s book in inequality

Brittan writes in the Financial Times that he is becoming more sympathetic to the plight of the less well-off, now that the …

If Canada doesn’t tackle income disparity, the economy will suffer

Liberal Party MP and Finance Critic Scott Brison on why the growing gap between the rich and the poor is a …

Centre for American Progress hosts an inequality live-stream

On Friday 8th May, CAP will host a conversation between Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on …

The middle class, inequality and economic strength

A new report by the Centre for American Progress analyzes the importance of a strong middle class for economic success …

Does Ontario’s wealth tax make sense?

Kevin Milligan takes a look at fears and forecasts around the new tax surcharge on those earning over $500,000.

Lovely jobs and lousy jobs

The hollowing out of the middle classes accelerates during a recession, writes Chrystia Freeland in the Globe and Mail.

Income inequality moving up the agenda

Lawrence Martin comments on the NDP’s push in income inequality.

OECD: Reducing income inequality while boosting economic growth

Can both goals be achieved at the same time? The OECD examines the evidence.

Alan Krueger: The Rise and Consequences of Inequality in the US

The Chairman of the US Council of Economic Advisers analyses the inequality problem facing the US in a speech at …

Fareed Zakaria: The downward path of upward mobility

Fareed Zakaria on income inequality and the “The downward path of upward mobility.”

WIRED: The New Socialism: Global Collectivist Society Is Coming Online

David Eaves points to a great article in Wired Magazine on how Wikipedia, Flickr, and Twitter aren’t just revolutions in …

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