Inequality Lecture Series

May 23 - Wojciech Kopczuk on Inter-Generational Mobility

Wojciech Kopczuk is Professor of Economics and of International and Public Affairs at the Department of Economics and School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Professor Kopczuk has published extensively on wealth inequality, economic mobility, and many other topics in public economics. Today, he will be presenting his most recent working paper, “Intergenerational Wealth Formation over the Life Cycle: Evidence from Danish Wealth Records 1984-2013,” which analyzes the evolution of the inter-generational correlation of wealth over the lifecycle.
The abstract:
This paper provides novel insights on intergenerational wealth mobility and its relationship to lifetime economic resources using thirty years of wealth records for the Danish population. Non-parametric evidence reveals an almost linear relationship between wealth ranks of children and parents, except at the very top of the distribution where the association is stronger. The slope of the graph—the rank correlation—is 0.27 when both parents and children are in mid-life (age 45-50). We find a U-shaped pattern when looking at the rank correlation as a function of child age with a correlation of 0.35 when children move into adulthood (age 20), going down to 0.17 in the mid-twenties and then moving gradually up again to 0.27 in the forties. After death of parents, the correlation lies in the range 0.35-0.40. We provide a simple theoretical frame- work to understand intergenerational wealth mobility over the lifecycle. The theory explains the life-cycle pattern in measured wealth mobility through life-cycle patterns of transfers and earnings: wealthy parents make inter vivo transfers early in childrens’ life, their children have low income in the twenties when investing in human capital, but a high permanent income and, finally, they receive large bequests. The U-shaped pattern requires that inter vivos transfers are quantitatively important and the increase in correlation at the receipt of bequests reveals the quantitative importance of bequests. Our main interest is in the correlation across generations in lifetime resources, which according to the theory may be captured by appropriately estimating intergenerational correlation in wealth. Our preferred estimate of the intergenerational correlation in lifetime resources is 0.25, which is significantly higher than the correlation of permanent incomes equal to 0.20.
Join us for a seminar and discussion with Wojciech Kopczuk on Monday, May 23 at 2:00PM – 3:30PM in room 5414 of the CUNY Graduate Center. The event will consist of a roughly 45-minute presentation by Professor Kopczuk followed by 30 minutes for discussion.
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This event is part of the LIS Center Inequality Lecture Series, and is cohosted by the GC Students Association for LIS Inequality Research.

April 6 - Didier Jacobs on the Ethics of Extreme Wealth

Didier Jacobs a Senior Economist at Oxfam America. Previously he served as Advisor to the President at Oxfam America, specializing in global governance and international finance. Jacobs has authored a book on global political theory titled “Global Democracy: The Struggle for Political and Civil Rights in the 21st Century,” which was published by Vanderbilt University Press. Most recently, Jacobs wrote an Oxfam Discussion Paper on meritocracy and wealth inequality, “Extreme Wealth is not Merited”.

From the paper:
Extreme wealth evokes images of both deserving entrepreneurs and fat cats. This paper parses them out both theoretically and empirically and makes the ethical case against extreme wealth from the perspective of meritocracy. It reviews several sources of extreme wealth through an analytical framework dubbed “the ladder of demerit.” The six rungs of the ladder—from higher to lower—consist of crime, cronyism, inheritance, monopoly, globalization, and technology. The higher rungs are clearly not meritocratic. The lower ones reward talented people multiple times what can be justified based on merit. Empirical evidence, drawn largely from Forbes’ list of billionaires, provides a tentative indication of the relative importance of each rung. Fifty percent of the world’s billionaire wealth is found to be non-meritocratic owing to either inheritance or a high presumption of cronyism. Another 15 percent is not meritocratic owing to presumption of monopoly. All of it is non-meritocratic owing to globalization. By contrast, crime and technology are found to be negligible sources of extreme wealth.

Join us for a seminar and discussion with Didier Jacobs on Wednesday, April 6 at 2:00PM. The seminar will be held at the CUNY Graduate Center, Room 5414. The event will consist of a 45 minute seminar followed by 30-45 minutes for Q&A.

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This event is part of the LIS Center Inequality Lecture Series, and is cohosted by the GC Students Association for LIS Inequality Research.

April 4 - Julia Cagé: Saving the Media

Julia Cagé is an assistant professor of economics at Sciences Po Paris. Her research focus includes political economy and economic history. As a PhD candidate at Harvard University, she wrote about the effects of newspaper competition on political participation.

Cagé’s new book, Saving the Media: Capitalism, Crowdfunding, and Democracy, which is published by Harvard University Press, studies the importance of an independent and well-funded press. She describes the troubling trends towards shallow and generic reporting, and she presents a new business model for media organizations.

From Harvard University Press:
Cagé’s prototype is designed to offer new ways to share and transmit power. It meets the challenges of the digital revolution and the realities of the twenty-first century, inspired by a central idea: that news, like education, is a public good. “Saving the Media” will be a key document in a debate whose stakes are nothing less crucial than the vitality of democracy.

The book will be available from Harvard University Press on 03/07/2016.

Professor Cagé will make a presentation about the book. Professor Leslie McCall (currently, Distinguished Visiting Fellow, ARC) will comment briefly, after which will be an open discussion.

Join us on Monday, April 4, 2016 at 2-4PM for a seminar with Julia Cagé. The seminar will be held at the CUNY Graduate Center, room 5414. Space is limited; RSVP to or

March 31 - Mark Weisbrot on Neo-Liberal Policies and Globalization

Mark Weisbrot is the Co-Director of the Center for Economic Policy and Research in Washington D.C. Weisbrot’s research focuses on macroeconomic development and growth. He has written extensively about Latin America, especially the effect of neoliberal trade policies in Venezuela and Argentina. His writing has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, and Folha de São Paulo (Brazil’s largest newspaper). Weisbrot is also the president of Just Foreign Policy, a non-partisan organization dedicated to moving U.S. foreign policy towards diplomacy and co-operation.

His new book, Failed: What the "Experts" Got Wrong about the Global Economy, is available now from Oxford University Press. The book analyzes the causes and consequences of recent macroeconomic developments in the Eurozone and elsewhere.

From Oxford University Press:
Why has the Eurozone ended up with an unemployment rate more than twice that of the United States more than six years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers? Why did the vast majority of low- and middle-income countries suffer a prolonged economic slowdown in the last two decades of the 20th century? What was the role of the International Monetary Fund in these economic failures? Why was Latin America able to achieve substantial poverty reduction in the 21st century after more than two decades without any progress?

Please join us for a seminar and discussion with Mark Weisbrot on Thursday, March 31, at 6:00PM. The seminar will be held at the CUNY Graduate Center, Room 5414. The format will consist of a roughly 45 minute presentation by Weisbrot, followed by a 30-45 minute Q&A period.

RSVP to or

This event is part of the LIS Center Inequality Lecture Series, and is cohosted by the GC Students Association for LIS Inequality Research.