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Symposium 2015

Equality and Growth in Europe: From Antagonism to Symbiosis

The Challenge

The first 'EU Social Justice Index', a comparison of all 28 member states of the European Union by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, shows that the concept of social justice is realized to very different extents within the EU. Whereas the opportunities for every individual to engage in broad-ranging societal participation are best developed in the northern European countries, many other EU countries show massive inequalities.

Such disparities are gaining new political weight in the light of recent research by the IMF and the OECD showing that equality is actually beneficial for economic growth. Social justice, it appears, is therefore no longer a goal worth pursuing for its own sake but it constitutes the very precondition for future economic success - a paradigm shift in economic thinking. A new social model that strives for both social justice as well as growth now seems desirable and achievable.  As a result, however, the growing divide in Europe in terms of social justice would have even more serious consequences with regard to economic growth. It could firmly establish a two-tier Europe.

Questions to be answered in this session are: What can a new social model that reconciles social justice and growth look like in practice? What does the paradigm shift in economic thinking regarding growth and inequality mean for policymakers, business and civil society? How can we implement policies that lead to both more equality and growth? What obstacles remain?  What can we learn from the top-performing countries in this regard? How can we stop the growing divide in Europe?

This session is organized by the Bertelsmann Stiftung. Please check out the tabs below for additional facts and information.

    Background Paper

    Background Paper
    Symposium 2015

    Equality and Growth in Europe: From Antagonism to Symbiosis

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society

    Virtual Library

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Social Justice in the EU - A cross-national comparison

    This report analyses the realization of the concept of social justice in all 28 member states of the European Union (EU). It shows clearly that EU countries vary considerably in their ability to creat ...

    This report analyses the realization of the concept of social justice in all 28 member states of the European Union (EU). It shows clearly that EU countries vary considerably in their ability to create a truly inclusive society and identifies a great gap between wealthy northern European countries (Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands) and the crisis-battered southern European countries (Greece, Spain and Italy), as well as Ireland and Hungary. The comparison reveals a predominantly negative trend: in the course of the crisis, the reach and scope of social justice have declined in the majority of EU countries. Only three of them – Poland, Germany and Luxembourg – have proven capable of improving significantly in comparison to the 2008 Social Justice Index.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Social Europe. Many ways, one objective. Annual Report of the social situation in the European Union by the EU Social Protection Committee

    The 2013 report concentrates on the results from the latest edition of the Social Protection Performance Monitor. It analyzes the most recent trends in the social situation in the Member States and th ...

    The 2013 report concentrates on the results from the latest edition of the Social Protection Performance Monitor. It analyzes the most recent trends in the social situation in the Member States and the European Union, providing an in-depth review of key challenges and identifying the social trends.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Social Inequalities in Europe: Facing the challenge

    The authors of this discussion paper reveal how social inequality differs across and within EU member states. The paper studies inequalities with regard to education, employment and income and investi ...

    The authors of this discussion paper reveal how social inequality differs across and within EU member states. The paper studies inequalities with regard to education, employment and income and investigates the effects of inequality on the societies in which it occurs.

    Virtual Library File
    Symposium 2015

    Redistribution, Inequality, and Growth

    In their earlier work, the authors of this paper documented a multi-decade cross-country relationship between inequality and the fragility of economic growth. Their work built on the tentative consens ...

    In their earlier work, the authors of this paper documented a multi-decade cross-country relationship between inequality and the fragility of economic growth. Their work built on the tentative consensus in the literature that inequality can undermine progress in health and education, cause investment-reducing political and economic instability, and undercut the social consensus required to adjust in the face of shocks, and thus that it tends to reduce the pace and durability of growth. A recently-compiled cross-country dataset that distinguishes market (before taxes and transfers) inequality from net (after taxes and transfers) inequality, allows them to calculate redistributive transfers for a large number of country-year observations. Their main findings are: First, more unequal societies tend to redistribute more. Second, lower net inequality is robustly correlated with faster and more durable growth, for a given level of redistribution. And third, redistribution appears generally benign in terms of its impact on growth; only in extreme cases is there some evidence that it may have direct negative effects on growth. Thus the combined direct and indirect effects of redistribution—including the growth effects of the resulting lower inequality—are on average pro-growth.