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Public Lecture: 1st March 2016

Economic Inequality: A messy social problem

Dr Nat O’Connor (Ulster University)

Various measures show that economic inequality is rising in the developed world. The top one per cent of earners in the USA now have the same level of income that they had in the 1920s. President Obama has called income inequality the “defining challenge of our time”. Nobel laureate economist Robert Shiller has called it

“The most important problem that we are facing now today”. While the USA leads on the extreme growth of income inequality, the UK and many other developed countries are moving in the same direction and it is a global problem. Oxfam reports that the top one per cent of the world’s population have more wealth than the other 99 per cent. Technically, the rise of inequality is a ‘complex social problem’ or ‘messy problem’. This talk tells the story of rising economic inequality and the threat this poses to our economic stability and social cohesion. The presentation will demystify some of the economic jargon involved and will invite the audience to consider possible solutions to economic inequality.

Watch the lecture here: YouTube
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Date: Tuesday 1st March 2016

5.30pm Registration and Refreshments
6.00pm Lecture
7.00pm Reception and Networking

Venue: The Business School, Room B003 (building 9) at Edge Hill University (Directions).

Registration: closed.


Nat is an Associate Member of the Institute for Research in Social Sciences (IRiSS) and a Lecturer of Public Policy and Public Management in the School of Criminology, Politics and Social Policy at Ulster University. His primary research interest is in how research-informed public policy can achieve social justice and human wellbeing. Nat’s work has focused on economic inequality, housing and homelessness, democratic accountability and public policy analysis. From 2009 to early 2015, Nat worked with the independent, progressive think-tank TASC in the roles of Policy Analyst, Director and Research Director. While working in TASC, Nat has presented to parliamentary committees and given briefings to policymakers on issues related to economic equality and open government. Nat also appeared regularly on television and radio, and has written a range of policy analysis and commentary on public policy, economic policy and social issues. Prior to TASC, Nat led the research team in Dublin’s Homeless Agency. Nat is a committee member of the Irish Social Policy Association, a member of the Republic of Ireland’s Living Wage Technical Group and is a member of the external advisory group of I4P.

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This date is part of a wider programme of events taking place at Edge Hill over the next couple of months as part of the Festival of Ideas 2016, a diverse range of events exploring culture, health and society. The main theme is Imagining Better – envisioning ways for communities, arts and healthcare to develop and flourish, even in times of austerity and inequality. Read more about the Festival of Ideas.

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