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Understanding inequality in order to understand how to grow

Pierluigi Ciocca’s latest book goes straight to the heart of the poverty/wealth issue while also outlining a possible path for development

 

Rich people are few, poor people are many: hence, inequality. This is not only an ethical, but also an economic issue, as it challenges the very foundations of our development and growth. An issue that, today, is back under the spotlight, not just discussed in economists’ analysis reports, but on the news, too. And as such, it has to be acknowledged by companies and governments alike.

This tangle of inequalities – of wealth and poverty – is both very modern and very ancient, but it now needs unravelling, though it won’t be an easy feat. In order to attempt it, we first need to fully understand how this tangle came to be. This is why Ricchi e poveri. Storia della diseguaglianza (The rich and the poor. A history of inequality), by Pierluigi Ciocca, makes for a very useful read: it’s an honest account of the perpetual conflict between those two human conditions, written with the expertise of an economist and the inquisitiveness of an anthropologist, and spanning from the Palaeolithic to the Sumerian periods, from the Etruscan to the ancient Roman eras, up to the modern and contemporary ages. This work – it should be emphasised – is not a mere history booklet written from an economist’s perspective, but a very comprehensive and significant book that many would find beneficial.

Ciocca – adopting a plain and simple, yet exact, language – first outlines the concepts of wealth and poverty, then explores the idea that wealth/poverty is the “dyad that always affected, and continues to affect, human history”. Thus, he goes on to investigate some periods of human history according to the degree of poverty and wealth that typified them. Subsequently, Ciocca delves into the conditions of pre-industrial Europe, which gradually led to the Middle Ages, to the Enlightenment, to the Industrial Revolution, to the 19th century and, ultimately, to our present times. And finally, he examines the “reasons for equity” and which concrete actions we could take in order to achieve equity.

Ciocca’s book is a real pleasure to read, and also to re-read – a kind of guide to better understand one of the issues (the main issue, perhaps) that, more than any other, could shape the future of our current economic and social assets.

Ricchi e poveri. Storia della diseguaglianza (The rich and the poor. A history of inequality)

Pierluigi Ciocca

Einaudi, 2021

Pierluigi Ciocca’s latest book goes straight to the heart of the poverty/wealth issue while also outlining a possible path for development

 

Rich people are few, poor people are many: hence, inequality. This is not only an ethical, but also an economic issue, as it challenges the very foundations of our development and growth. An issue that, today, is back under the spotlight, not just discussed in economists’ analysis reports, but on the news, too. And as such, it has to be acknowledged by companies and governments alike.

This tangle of inequalities – of wealth and poverty – is both very modern and very ancient, but it now needs unravelling, though it won’t be an easy feat. In order to attempt it, we first need to fully understand how this tangle came to be. This is why Ricchi e poveri. Storia della diseguaglianza (The rich and the poor. A history of inequality), by Pierluigi Ciocca, makes for a very useful read: it’s an honest account of the perpetual conflict between those two human conditions, written with the expertise of an economist and the inquisitiveness of an anthropologist, and spanning from the Palaeolithic to the Sumerian periods, from the Etruscan to the ancient Roman eras, up to the modern and contemporary ages. This work – it should be emphasised – is not a mere history booklet written from an economist’s perspective, but a very comprehensive and significant book that many would find beneficial.

Ciocca – adopting a plain and simple, yet exact, language – first outlines the concepts of wealth and poverty, then explores the idea that wealth/poverty is the “dyad that always affected, and continues to affect, human history”. Thus, he goes on to investigate some periods of human history according to the degree of poverty and wealth that typified them. Subsequently, Ciocca delves into the conditions of pre-industrial Europe, which gradually led to the Middle Ages, to the Enlightenment, to the Industrial Revolution, to the 19th century and, ultimately, to our present times. And finally, he examines the “reasons for equity” and which concrete actions we could take in order to achieve equity.

Ciocca’s book is a real pleasure to read, and also to re-read – a kind of guide to better understand one of the issues (the main issue, perhaps) that, more than any other, could shape the future of our current economic and social assets.

Ricchi e poveri. Storia della diseguaglianza (The rich and the poor. A history of inequality)

Pierluigi Ciocca

Einaudi, 2021