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Seminar 03 - Economics and Inequalities


Week 1 + Week 2: Luis SAN VICENTE PORTES (Montclair State University, USA)

Sounds like a riddle. We don’t see it but we are in it. We don’t see it but we are all part of it. More? This is what it is not, society. Here is the give-away: to account for it, it has to be measured. Oh, but is it there where the trouble begins? Measures are based on scales, and if there are scales then one can compare. One can compare its evolution over time and its appearance at a point in time. Ok ok, it is … the economy!

See? It was better left un-named, because now we are forced to think harder. Start with our fixture to it and the effect it has on us. Is growth bad? Wait, whose growth? And what about stability? Is there a trade-off between growth and stability? Security would be nice, but what makes us happy? Could it be unmeasured things (e.g. caring for others)? One would be hard-pressed to find a nation whose stated objective is to maximize growth, though at least there are three nations who seek to maximize happiness ---and they are led by women. Scotland, New-Zealand, and Iceland do have such goal, and so does Bhutan, the first nation to promote Gross National Happiness since 1972.

But then again, is happiness and absolute or a relative notion? Does it affect my perception of well-being that others are better-off or worse-off than me? If so inequality matters.

This seminar will provide a foundation and perspective from which to tackle all these questions and other pressing ones such as why are there economic disparities among countries, why some economies are more stable than others (its ramifications to security, where security extends to the threat from climate change), and if happiness is the ultimate goal, how to measure it, and how to achieve it?

Luis San Vicente Portes


(Montclair State University, USA)

Short CV:  >> here <<

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