Desigualdade boa e má

PRINCETON – no panteão das teorias económicas, o trade-off [compromisso] entre a igualdade e a eficiência costumava ocupar uma posição elevada. O economista americano, Arthur Okun, cujo trabalho clássico sobre o tema intitula-se Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff, acreditava que as políticas públicas centravam-se em torno da gestão da tensão entre esses dois valores. Não há muito tempo, em 2007, quando o economista da Universidade de Nova Iorque, Thomas Sargent, dirigindo-se à turma de finalistas na Universidade da Califórnia, Berkeley, resumiu a sabedoria da economia em 12 princípios curtos, o trade-off estava entre eles.

A crença de que aumentar a igualdade exige sacrificar a eficiência económica é fundamentada numa das ideias mais valorizadas na economia: incentivos. As empresas e os indivíduos necessitam da perspectiva de rendimentos mais elevados para economizarem, investirem, trabalharem muito e inovarem. Se a tributação das empresas rentáveis e das ricas famílias atenuar essas perspectivas, o resultado é um esforço reduzido e menor crescimento económico. Países comunistas, onde as experiências igualitárias conduziram ao desastre económico, desempenharam durante muito tempo o cargo de “Prova A” no caso contra políticas redistributivas.

Nos últimos anos, no entanto, nem a teoria económica nem a prova empírica têm sido simpáticas para o presumível trade-off. Os economistas têm apresentado novos argumentos que mostram por que é que o bom desempenho económico não só é compatível com a justiça distributiva, mas como também pode exigi-la.

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