The Public Interest

Reducing poverty, not inequality

Martin S. Feldstein

Fall 1999

ACCORDING to official statistics, the distribution of income has become increasingly unequal during the past two decades. A common reaction in the popular press, in political debate, and in academic discussions is to regard the increased inequality as a problem that demands new redistributive policies. I disagree. I believe that inequality as such is not a problem and that it would be wrong to design policies to reduce it. What policy should address is not inequality but poverty.

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