chapter  3
Subjective evaluation of economic inequality
Pages 17

Economic inequality has existed for centuries. Inequality between aristocrats and non-elites – in terms of wealth and power – has been accepted as both obvious and inevitable. However, with the rise of democracy and capitalism, people began to demand equal rights and to consider inequality as helping to shift society toward prosperity. Inequality was seen as motivating people to move up the social ladder. And through the invisible hand effect, it was seen as providing unintended redistribution of resources from the wealthy to the poor. Currently, at a time of fast-paced globalization and increasing effort to tackle global social problems, the debate about inequality – within communities, within countries and among nations – is one of society’s most intense and divisive issues.