Die Erben der Ungleichheit

ROM – Es ist seit langem bekannt, dass die Ungleichheit in Phasen raschen Wirtschaftswachstums zunehmen kann. China und Indien sind die jüngsten Beispiele dafür. Könnten aber auch langsames Wachstum und steigende Ungleichheit – die hervorstechendsten Merkmale der entwickelten Ökonomien von heute – miteinander zusammenhängen?

So jedenfalls lautet die faszinierende Hypothese in einer jüngst veröffentlichten Studie des französischen Ökonomen Thomas Piketty von der Paris School of Economics. Piketty hat damit eine der wichtigsten Arbeiten über Ungleichheit der letzten Jahre vorgelegt.

Dank der Genauigkeit der Aufzeichnungen der französischen Bürokratie konnte Piketty die volkswirtschaftliche Gesamtrechnung Frankreichs über beinahe zwei Jahrhunderte rekonstruieren. Die Wirtschaft in den Jahren von 1820 bis zum Ersten Weltkrieg – eine Art zweites Ancien Regime – wies zwei auffällige Merkmale auf: langsames Wachstum – von etwa 1 Prozent jährlich – und einen überdimensionalen Anteil an ererbtem Vermögen, der sich auf etwa 20 bis 25 Prozent des BIP belief.

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