Economic Policy inequality ZEIT ONLINE op-ed column

Opportunity Credit to Safeguard the Future

The social divide did not first become obvious with the election of Donald Trump and the rise of right-wing populist extremists in Europe. In light of social inequality and uncertainty, political polarization and the mounting struggle for a piece of the pie come as little surprise. Policy makers must react by fundamentally rethinking social policy with the aim of improving people’s economic, social, and political participation, thereby affording them new opportunities.

An opportunity credit would be an excellent approach. Based … [continue reading]

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inequality ZEIT ONLINE op-ed column

Equality and Taxes in Germany

This text was also published in German in ZEIT ONLINE on May 26 as part of the op-ed column “Fratzschers Verteilungsfragen“

Going by what political parties say, it would seem that the tax system in Germany is unjust. In the federal election campaign, each is trumping the next: promising tax relief to voters or demanding higher taxes on the wealthy. Last year’s high fiscal surplus of almost 24 billion euros has whetted appetites. In the upcoming months the election campaign … [continue reading]

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inequality ZEIT ONLINE op-ed column

The Shrinkage in Earned Income

This text was also published in German in ZEIT ONLINE on May 12 as part of the op-ed column “Fratzschers Verteilungsfragen“.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has attracted attention with its most recent World Economic Outlook. The report shows that the global workforce is receiving a decreasing proportion of economic output, whereas owners of capital are claiming a larger piece of the pie for themselves. Germany stands out as one of the countries where the proportion benefiting workers is … [continue reading]

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Economic Policy inequality ZEIT ONLINE op-ed column

Unconditional basic income does not equal more freedom

This text was also published in German in ZEIT ONLINE on April 28 as part of the op-ed column “Fratzschers Verteilungsfragen“.

“Freedom for the wolves has often meant death to the sheep,” noted British philosopher Isaiah Berlin as a way of describing the conflicts in industrial society. Technological change and globalization have brought great freedom and opportunity to some people. Many others, however, feel threatened by these developments. They are worried about their jobs and fear an increasing dependence on … [continue reading]

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Economic Policy inequality ZEIT ONLINE op-ed column

Equal opportunity, not basic income, for all

This text was also published in German in ZEIT ONLINE on April 14 as part of the op-ed column “Fratzschers Verteilungsfragen“.

Unconditional basic income has resurfaced as a subject of lively discussion. The Swiss rejected it last year, but other countries are already experimenting to find out what effects such basic income could produce.

It is being treated as a savior – some consider it a cure for social inequality and a means of modernizing the social system, while other … [continue reading]

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inequality ZEIT ONLINE op-ed column

There is no need to take in order to give

This text was also published in German in ZEIT ONLINE on March 31 as part of the op-ed column “Fratzschers Verteilungsfragen“.

Social inequality has become the main issue of political contention in Germany. The trenches are deeper and the struggle more vociferous than for any other issue. One camp wants to fortify society’s most vulnerable segments; the other believes that top performers should be rewarded. There are even intra-party rifts with no reconciliation in sight. But both sides are on … [continue reading]

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inequality ZEIT ONLINE op-ed column

Elites turning a blind eye to social inequality

This text was also published in German in ZEIT ONLINE on December 23 as part of the op-ed column “Fratzschers Verteilungsfragen“.

Germany’s widespread social inequality is real – but politicians are still in denial.

“The people may get most facts wrong, but their feelings are mostly correct,” wrote Kurt Tucholsky, with a dash of irony, on the political manipulation of Germany’s citizens. Though the quote is from 1931, it still holds true today. Significant portions of Germany’s population are feeling … [continue reading]

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Economic Policy Election2017 Europe inequality ZEIT ONLINE op-ed column

Trump’s brand of populism feeds on frustration and fear

January 20, 2017 is a historic day, with Donald Trump’s entry into office as the 45th U.S. President marking the beginning of a new era. Yet his inauguration is accompanied, at least among certain political circles, by a widespread anticipation of his failure – as well as the belief that it’s only a matter of time until everyone else catches on.

The prospect of a Trump presidency is generating collective concern around the globe: since he was elected in … [continue reading]

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Election2017 inequality ZEIT ONLINE op-ed column

In Germany, the poor are getting poorer

This text was also published in German in  ZEIT ONLINE on March 3rd  as part of the op-ed column “Fratzschers Verteilungsfragen“.

Recently, the Federal Government will soon present its fifth official Poverty and Wealth Report. But early leaks revealed the removal of passages concerning the richest citizens’ disproportionate political influence had already triggered widespread public outrage. Such an omission is especially troubling given that broad political participation – critical for a functional democracy – is lacking in Germany. In fact, … [continue reading]

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Economic Policy ZEIT ONLINE op-ed column

Germany’s equal pay laws stuck in the Stone Age

This text was first published in German in  ZEIT ONLINE on January 13,  as part of the op-ed column “Fratzschers Verteilungsfragen“.

Women themselves are to blame for the fact that they earn less, and any laws governing equal pay would pose an unnecessary economic burden – right? Wrong.

Over the past few months, a contentious debate in Germany has been flaring up regarding the new “wage equality law” designed to help eliminate gender-based discrimination. Critics of the law argue that … [continue reading]

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