Inequality on the docket at World Economic Forum in Davos

David Gura Jan 21, 2014
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Inequality on the docket at World Economic Forum in Davos

David Gura Jan 21, 2014
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The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum kicks off this week, in Davos, Switzerland. The global elite — executives, politicians, media moguls, and academics — will gather in the Alps for a four-day confab. This year, one of the items on the agenda is inequality. 

There is a lot packed into this conference. The program — sorry, programme — lists more than 250 panels and lectures, and there are plenty of opportunities for networking.

“I think there are real possibilities for concrete action to come out of a place like Davos,” says Katherine Klein, the Edward H. Bowman Professor of Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  She went to Davos last year.

According to Klein, you feel like you are among the who’s who, “and if Davos and the World Economic Forum say this effort is important, that also gets folks’ attention.”

Daron Acemoglu, the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at M.I.T., has never been to Davos, but he welcomes the World Economic Forum’s focus on inequality.

“It’s good that the media, policymakers, and academics are paying more attention to it,” he says.

Acemoglu notes there is an irony here: “They can spend a week in the most luxurious circumstances, flying in their private jets, precisely because of the inequality that we are talking about.”

But, Acemoglu says, if the economic and political elites in our society are genuinely interested in a social problem like inequality, they can attract attention to it and contribute resources to address it.

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