Welfare, Inequality and the Social Dimension in Europe

tors 12:00 (16/11-2017)  -  fre 13:00 (17/11-2017)
Handelshögskolan, Göteborgs Universitet

On 17 November 2017, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven will be hosting the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth in Gothenburg. In order to contribute to an informed and vigorous public debate on these issues, an open workshop on Welfare, Inequality and the Social Dimension in Europe involving leading international researchers has been organized by CERGU (Centre for European Research at the University of Gothenburg) and SOCAV (Department of Sociology and Work Science), with support as co-organizers from Brännpunkt Europa and CES (Centre for European Studies).

The keynote speech will be given by Professor John D. Stephens (Chapel Hill, USA), and is entitled 'Top Income Shares: Political and Economic Determinants.' This will be followed by research presentations and discussions on key issues such as the dualization of labour markets in Europe; inequality and the rise of the Swedish Democrats; work-family reconciliation practices; and trade unions and the social dimension in Europe.

The workshop takes place over two days and is open to all. 

Thursday- 16 November, 2017 

12.00 - 14.00 Keynote speech: Top Income Shares: Political and Economic Determinants, Professor John D. Stephens 

14.00-14.30 Coffee, 'Hyllan', Handelsrätten second floor 

14.30 - 17.30 Research Presentations 

Friday - 17 November, 2017 

9.00 - 10.30 Research Presentations 

10.30-11.00 Coffee, 'Hyllan', Handelsrätten second floor 

11.00 - 13.00 Research Presentations 


John D Stephens, Centre for European Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

Barbara Bechter, Durham University Business School 

Bengt Furåker, Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg 

Erik Vestin, Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg

Tomas Berglund, Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg 

Andrea Spehar, Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg 

Bengt Larsson, Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg 

A detailed program can be found here

The rise of the super-rich has attracted much political and academic attention in recent years. However, there have been few attempts to explain the cross-national along with the temporal variation in the rise of top incomes. Drawing on the World Wealth and Income Database, we study the income share of the top 1% in almost all current postindustrial democracies from 1960 to 2012.

We find that extreme income concentration at the top is a predominantly political phenomenon, not the result of increasing marginal productivity of top managers in markets of increasing size. Top income shares are largely unrelated to economic growth, increased knowledge-intensive production, export competitiveness, and wealth accumulation, though they are related to stock market capitalization and some measures of financialization. Instead, they are closely associated with political and policy changes some of which reflect a decline in the relative power of labor, such as union density and centralization, secular-right governments, top marginal tax rates, and investment in public tertiary education.

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