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How the Market Is Betraying Advanced Economies

As lifestyles in the world's developing economies improve drastically, many in the advanced economies are seeing their wellbeing deteriorate – a trend that automation will only exacerbate. Without fundamental change in the framework of public policymaking, it is difficult to imagine a prosperous future in these societies.

CAMBRIDGE – Despite ever-improving conditions for millions of people around the world – documented by entities like the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data and highlighted by scholars like Steven Pinker – popular discontent is on the rise in many places. The reason is simple: whereas the first trend is being driven by low- and middle-income countries, the second is concentrated in high-income countries. 

Throughout the developed world, conditions for many workers are deteriorating, with no recovery in sight. Income inequality is near historic highs, wealth inequality is even higher, and economic insecurity is widespread.

As the United Kingdom tears itself apart politically and constitutionally over Brexit, many of its citizens struggle with low-quality jobs, inadequate housing, and poverty so severe that they rely on food banks. France’s Yellow Vest protests have been hijacked by violent extremists, but they reflect real grievances about the growing challenge of maintaining living standards. In the United States, the Economic Report of the President touts the supposed elimination of poverty, but life expectancy does not decline in a prosperous country.

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