Global Economic Issues & Social Inequality
DATE: January 22, 2018
SUBJECT: Global Economic Issues and Social Inequality | NYU Program in International Relations
The panelists discussed the issue of social inequality and its impact on US and European politics.
Akker said income inequality is a growing problem because it puts the younger generation of people at risk, and called for a financial union, “fair” taxes, and structural reforms.
Segall addressed the relationship between globalization and inequality, noting that policies on the national level are the key to addressing inequality within countries.
The event can be viewed here.
Date: January 22, 2018
Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Location: 19 University Place, New York, NY
Gerton Van Den Akker, Head of Staff of the European Union Delegation to the UN
David Segall, Policy Associate, NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights
Dr. Michael John Williams, Program Director, Program in International Relations
“Global Economic Issues & Social Inequality” is the second of three events co-sponsored by the Program in International Relations at NYU, Le Monde Diplomatique, and Romuald Sciora Media (RSM) pertaining to relations between the United States and Europe. The first event, “Transatlantic Relations in the Trump Age,” was covered by IR INSIDER’s Renee Firth (see here).
The focus of this discussion is social inequality, its effects on US and European politics, as well as on Transatlantic relations. Gerton Van Den Akker, head of staff of the European Union Delegation to the UN, spoke from a European perspective, while David Segall, Policy Associate of the Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, spoke from an American perspective.
Akker began the discussion by highlighting the importance of addressing social inequality. He cited concerns among the public that social inequality will make the younger generation worse off than the older generation, adding that the youth have replaced the elderly as the age group that is most likely to experience income poverty.
To combat inequality, Akker proposed creating a “full financial union” that can finance companies and support innovation, establishing a “fair” tax system, and structural reforms.
Segall, who studies social inequality between regions, focused on the relationship between globalization and social inequality. While globalization has been credited with reducing inequality between countries by bringing developing countries closer to the level of developed countries, it has also faced criticism for supposedly increasing inequality within countries. According to Segall, the so-called “international” benefits of globalization and “domestic” drawbacks of globalization have enabled critics to associate globalization with a “global elite.”
However, he challenged the notion that globalization drives social inequality, saying that pre-globalized societies were also “highly unequal.” Citing data that shows inequality has decreased in some countries while increasing in others, Segall said inequality is not a “foregone conclusion” everywhere and identified national policies as the key to addressing social inequality within countries.
Asked about his thoughts on migration to Europe and its effects on social inequality, Akker said the European Union has “a responsibility to ensure that migrants get the training and education to be able to integrate quickly into a society,” but noted that such a responsibility may elicit complaints from European taxpayers who think refugees are entitled. Noting that migration is more beneficial than harmful to Europe, Akker said Europeans as a whole must learn to accommodate the migrants because migration to Europe will not stop.
Akker and Segall were then asked about the effects of social inequality on Transatlantic relations. While Segall said social inequality has put Transatlantic cooperation at risk by spreading the idea that “multilateral institutions are subverting national sovereignty,” Segall was more optimistic, claiming that the EU has successfully engaged with the Trump Administration to keep the US committed to multilateral goals.
IR INSIDER asked the panelists whether it is possible for discussions surrounding social inequality in the US to not devolve into cyclical debates between capitalism and socialism. Segall said it is possible if people realize that the US, like other countries, is a “hybrid society” where the merits of policies such as social security are more important than the ideologies they are widely associated with.
Answering in the context of European politics, Akker said he is more concerned with what he called a disconnectivity between the European Parliament and European voters, suggesting that debates about political and economic ideologies are recurrent and therefore natural in liberal democratic societies.
Report by: Jamin Chen, Event Reporter. Editor: Chao Wang.