Some Economic Inequality Is Good

The main issues related to judging inequality and its changes over time come down to deciding whether the inequality is of the good or bad kind, says Nobel Laureate Gary Becker.

Many people, especially academics and other intellectuals, find the phrase "good inequality" jarring because they can hardly think of any aspect of inequality as being "good". Yet a little thought makes clear that some types of economic inequality have great social value. For example, it would be hard to motivate the vast majority of individuals to exert much effort, including creative effort, if everyone had the same earnings, status, prestige, and other types of rewards. For example, many fewer individuals would engage in the hard work involved in finishing high school and going on to college if they did not expect their additional education to bring higher incomes, better health, more prestige, and better opportunities to marry.

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(Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)
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Scott Barbour/Getty Images
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