What are the origins of inequality? In an interview with Joel Suss, Managing Editor of the British Politics and Policy at LSE blog, Angus Deaton, Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University, discusses his latest book, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality. He outlines his approach to the development of inequality, and the implications of growing inequality for democracy in contemporary states.
Your new book is titled “The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality”. What is the great escape? What are the origins of inequality?
The great escape is two things: First, it is one of the basic movies that everybody knew and everybody watched in which some people break out of a German prisoner of war camp in World War II and, you know, they are very sophisticated and they dig tunnels and they make passports and fake documents and all this. And then more than 200 people get out through these tunnels and head for home. Not very many of them make it, which is something we might come back to, but it was the great escape. So I use that as a sort of running analogy for the real great escape of the book, which is people escaping from a sort of prison of early death, destitution, having very little – living as slaves, no democracy, no education. All the things we take for granted today, at least in some of the world, people didn’t have and so they’re escaping to freedom from the sort of “unfreedoms” of those things.