The conceptual evolution of inequality and poverty in economic thought

Vol. 41 No. 2 (2021)

Apr-Jun / 2021
Published March 30, 2021
PDF-Portuguese (Pt-BR)
PDF-Portuguese (Pt-BR)

How to Cite

Carvalho, André Roncaglia de, and Luciana Rosa de Souza. 2021. “The Conceptual Evolution of Inequality and Poverty in Economic Thought”. Brazilian Journal of Political Economy 41 (2), 402-25. https://doi.org/10.1590/0101-31572021-3142.

The conceptual evolution of inequality and poverty in economic thought

André Roncaglia de Carvalho
Professor Adjunto do Departamento de Economia da Escola Paulista de Política, Economia e Negócios (EPPEN) – Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP), São Paulo/SP, Brasil.
Luciana Rosa de Souza
Professora Adjunta do Departamento de Economia da Escola Paulista de Política, Economia e Negócios (EPPEN) – Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP), São Paulo/SP, Brasil.
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 41 No. 2 (2021), Apr-Jun / 2021, Pages 402-425

Abstract

This is a historical reading of economic ideas about the problem of inequality and poverty. Based on the reflections of David Ricardo, the trajectory of economists’ concerns with the topic is explored, in an attempt to demarcate the phases in which the profession’s attention focused on one aspect of the problem of social justice, as well as its causes. and its effects on the behavior of individuals and the economy. In particular, attention is paid to the sensitivity of the research agenda to the various historical contexts, as well as to methodological and technological innovations. The research agenda is predominantly marked by a focus on functional income distribution until the 1980s, when poverty became the center of attention, motivating the development of methods of personal income distribution (size distribution). It offers a panoramic and non-linear reinterpretation of economic ideas about inequality and poverty, a theme that has been gaining increasing importance in the analytical developments of the economy in the last 15 years, in which the problem of concentration of wealth has gained more elaborate outlines, opening a new front of investigations on social justice and the role of public policy.

JEL Classification: B11.


Keywords: Income and wealth inequality, poverty, social justice, history of economic thought