Inequality Conference Sets Precedents

Paul Krugman and Mayor Bill De Blasio at ECINEQ 2017
Nobel laureate and GC Distinguished Professor Paul Krugman discussed inequality with Mayor Bill De Blasio at the 2017 ECINEQ conference.

The Graduate Center has established a firm foothold in the burgeoning field of inequality studies, as evidenced by the 2017 Society for the Study of Economic Inequality (ECINEQ) conference, which was hosted last week by the GC’s Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality.

This year’s conference set some precedents.

It was the first time that ECINEQ – based in Verona, Italy – selected a U.S.-based host for its biennial meeting. Publicity by the Stone Center also helped ECINEQ attract 476 paper submissions – a record number and 200 more than the 2015 meeting.

2017 ECINEQ conference attendee
ECINEQ 2017 attracted hundreds of scholars.

Ultimately, there were 229 presentations and 252 attendees from across the United States and more than 30 other countries. In addition to established scholars, the conference drew a number of Ph.D. students, including three GC students who presented papers.

The Stone Center, established less than a year ago, is a growing presence in the field of inequality studies, and hosting the ECINEQ conference was a big deal.

“We were excited to be the institute chosen to bring an ECINEQ meeting to the United States,” said Professor Janet Gornick (Political Science and Sociology), director of the Stone Center, who called the conference “the world’s premiere conference on research on economic inequality.”

This year’s event featured six plenary sessions, including a lecture by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, university professor at Columbia University. The conference opened with a conversation between Nobel laureate and Stone Center Scholar Paul Krugman and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

One of the plenary sessions, a talk by Gabriel Zucman, author of The Hidden Wealth of Nations, also marked the first annual Stone Lecture on Wealth Inequality. Zucman, an authority on tax havens, followed up on his acclaimed book with a discussion on the extent of tax evasion by the super wealthy as revealed in the Panama Papers and recent leaks by HSBC, known as the Swiss Leaks.

The conference closed with a gala dinner, which was held in honor of the late Tony Atkinson, the first president of ECINEQ and widely considered to be the founder of modern inequality studies.

“Every scholar at this conference was influenced by his work,” said Gornick, who pointed out that four of the conference papers were coauthored by him and many more relied on the Atkinson index.

“In a certain sense, it was like a family reunion and dad was missing,” she said, adding, “the outpouring of admiration for Tony was a key measure of what has been achieved in the field. As the incoming president of ECINEQ, Frank Cowell, aptly said, ‘If you want to see Tony’s monument, look around you.’”

Nobel laureate Joel Stiglitz paid tribute to the late Tony Atkinson, the first president of ECINEQ.


Submitted on: JUL 25, 2017

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