21-22 Jun 2012 Lille (France)

About the event

The conference is centred on the issue of inequalities within globalized economies, in connection with skills, education and labour market institutions.

Over the last thirty years, after several decades of reduction, income and wealth inequalities have known an upsurge, sometimes dramatic, in almost all developed countries (the North). Despite this general diagnosis, the moment of this reversal as well as its intensity critically differs across countries.

Over the same period, income inequalities in emerging countries (the South) have shown rather contrasted changes. Until the early nineties, the reduction of inequality in East Asian countries seemed to confirm the Heckscher-Ohlinian prediction of a decrease in the skill premium due to North-South openness. This result has subsequently been disputed when considering (i) the rise in inequality in Latin America, China and India, and (ii) the fact that inequality has increased in most of East Asian countries since the mid-nineties. A number of recent empirical works conclude that openness has increased inequality in emerging countries, with however critical differences across countries. 

The conference aims at gathering the most recent analyses concerning the economics of growing inequalities and changing poverty within both advanced and emerging countries, with a special emphasis on their links with the process of globalisation and on the relationships between inequality,  skill and education.  

 As regards Northern countries, three major explanations for growing inequalities have been put forward, namely, technical change, globalization and institutional changes. If the early empirical literature came to the conclusion that technical change was the main operating factor, more recent works have questioned this diagnosis. These works rehabilitate the two other explanations and they underline the interactions between the three factors of inequality. Finally, the new empirical literature show that the impact of each factor can critically differ between countries, periods and industries.

As regards emerging countries, the main explanation for within-country growing inequality seems to be North-South technological transfers. This has been encouraged by the multinationalization of firms and Foreign Direct Investment.  Several works have shown that, if North-South trade has had its expected Heckscher-Ohlinian effect by reducing inequality, technological transfers have in contrast increased inequality within emerging countries. 

Finally, in the longer term, the persistence of both within and between country inequalities are to a large extent determined by the educational attainment and skill convergence of the population(s), and thus by the intergenerational skill dynamics.

The conference aims at gathering both theoretical and empirical works on the multiple dimensions of the dynamics of inequalities within globalized economies.

The main topics of the conference are:

1.   The impacts of globalization (North-South trade, capital mobility, multinationalization of firms, FDI) upon inequalities and poverty in both advanced and emerging countries.

2.   Inequality, skill and employment: restructuring and skill obsolescence, in-work poverty, inequality-unemployment trade-off…

3.   Technical change and inequalities.

4.   Institutional changes (tax system labour market institutions, tax and social competition etc.), inequality and poverty.

5.    Intergenerational transmission of skills, under-education trap, education and inequality.

6.    Measuring inequality and poverty.

7.    The public policies against inequality/poverty and their assessment.

8.    New poverties.

9.    Migrations and inequalities.

10.  Inequality, growth, welfare and efficiency.



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