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In this lecture, Branko Milanovic gives an overview of the concept of inequality as conceptualized within the classical school of thought. While the classical authors typically understood inequality in the sense of a functional distribution or as inequality between classes (workers, capitalists and landowners), Milanovic shows how their theories can be interpreted as informing also more modern theories regarding the interpersonal distribution of income or wealth. In this first part of his two-part lecture series, he shows in particular that the interpretation of the Smithian and classical theory as describing markets as self-regulating system lacks nuance and that the classical authors were indeed concerned with issues of market failure, market power and inequality.
The lecture was delivered as a webinar at The Graduate Center of CUNY.
The material provides a comparative analysis between the main approaches of the classical authors like Quesnay, Smith, Ricardo and Marx whose thoughts directly or indirectly affected the concept of income inequality. This discussion shows how much these classical authors considered technical change to be at the base of the development of the advanced capitalist economy.