Inequality and Sustainability

Staff: Kemp-Benedict, E. ; Kartha, S. ; Stanton, E.A. ; Fencl, A. ; Olson, K. ; Davis, M. ; Dawkins, E.; Matin, N.
Date: 2011-ongoing

While a privileged few enjoy unprecedented levels of wealth, a large share of the global population still lacks access to basic resources. These inequalities are too large to be explained by differences in skills, abilities, and aspirations between individuals. And though inequality may not be inherently bad, the high levels of inequality in our world have been linked to considerable social and environmental problems.

A growing body of research shows that inequalities might not only affect the poor, but make society worse for all. Large levels of inequality are accompanied by lower levels of trust and psychological stresses that impact upon health, levels of violence, and the use of environmental resources. Moreover, inequalities between categories of people – such as gender, ethnic, and religious categories – shape institutions and affect livelihood outcomes. At a larger scale, inequalities between countries partly determine life opportunities for citizens, the scope for national action, and global patterns of resource use.

This project seeks to understand how different kinds of inequality – between individuals, groups, and countries – affect the prospects for long-term sustainability, and to apply that knowledge to practical, policy-relevant questions. We explore the factors that create and maintain different kinds of inequality, and examine the role of equity as a driving force to bring about poverty alleviation, social change and an ecologically sustainable planet.


International Conference on Inequality and Sustainability
9-10 November, 2012
The Fletcher School, Tufts University
Download the agenda (PDF, 898kb)


Related Publication(s):
Political Regimes and Income Inequality
Inequality, Trust, and Sustainability
The Tragedy of Maldistribution: Climate, Sustainability, and Equity