The Age of Increasing Inequality
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The Age of Increasing Inequality

The Astonishing Rise of Canada's 1%

By Lars Osberg

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Canada is in a new era. For 35 years, the country has become vastly wealthier, but most people have not. For the top 1%, and even more forthe top 0.1%, the last 35 years have been a bonanza.

Canadians know very well that there's a huge problem. It's expressed in resistance to tax increases, concerns over unaffordable housing, demands for higher minimum wages, and pressure for action on the lack of good full time jobs for new graduates.

This book documents the dramatic and rapid growth in inequality. It identifies the causes. And it proposes meaningful steps to halt and reverse this dangerous trend.

Lars Osberg looks separately at the top, middle and bottom of Canadian incomes. He provides new data which will surprise, even shock, many readers. He explains how trade deals have contributed to putting a lid on incomes for workers. The gradual decline of unions in the private sector has also been a factor. On the other end of the scale, he explains the growing high salaries for corporate executives, managers, and some fortunate professionals. Lars Osberg believes that increasing inequality is bad for the country, and its unfairness is toxic to public life. But there is nothing inevitable about this, and he points to innovative measures that would produce a fairer distribution of wealth among all Canadians.


Figures and Tables


  1. Canadian Income Inequality: The Big Picture
  2. What’s Been Happening to Canada’s Middle Class?
  3. Inequality at the Top
  4. Inequality from the Bottom Up
  5. The Moving Picture of Incomes
  6. Inequality of Wealth
  7. Outcomes and Opportunities
  8. Why Do Economic Inequalities Matter?
  9. What to Do?






Short-listed - Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing - 2019

"Lars Osberg convincingly argues that ever rising inequality is literally unsustainable since it undermines economic stability and steadily tears away at the social and political fabric. He carefully details the inequality story in Canada, stressing the accumulation of income and wealth in the hands of the top one per cent, the long term stagnation of the living standards of the middle class, and the exclusion of the poor from the mainstream. His rigorous and humane analysis sets the stage for some radical, but feasible, advice on where we should go from here."

- Andrew Jackson, Broadbent Institute's Senior Policy Advisor, Chief Economist and Director of Social and Economic Policy with the Canadian Labour Congress

"When Lars Osberg decides it's time to take another look at trends in income inequality, I always sit up and pay close attention. The former president of the Canadian Economics Association has been a guru on the topic for decades, both in Canada and internationally. His scholarship and fabulous talents as raconteur never fail to impart fresh insights on the most important socio-economic subject of our era, and clarify exactly why income inequality has taken on that urgent status. If you want to know how we got here and where we're headed, Osberg's latest is sure to be the best-in-class book on a topic of profound relevance in the early 21st century: how our economic fates are bound with one another's."

- Armine Yalnizyan, Economic Policy Advisor to the Government of Canada (Employment and Social Development Canada)

"Nobody in Canada, and few anywhere in the world, have done more than Lars Osberg to focus public debate and public policy on the crucial challenge of combating and reducing inequality. Now this readable, rigorous book assembles his most powerful arguments under one cover. It is a potent weapon in the shared effort to build a more equal Canada."

- Jim Stanford, Director, Centre for Future Work, Sydney Australia

"If you think "relentless incrementalism" is, or should be, the Canadian way, this book is a reality check. Our accelerating path towards steeper inequality, profound insecurity and social unrest does not lead to the future Canada we want. Osberg's call for policies that are bold and fast enough to change paths, like basic income and fairer taxation, ought to be heeded."

- Sheila Regehr, Basic Income Canada Network

"Lars Osberg has long been a leading voice alerting us to the explosive growth in the gap between the rich and the rest of Canadian society. In this important and incisive book, he lays out the negative impacts of such inequality and the bold steps needed if we are to address the problem before our country becomes unrecognizable."

- Linda McQuaig, Journalist and co-author of The Trouble with Billionaires

"This is a timely and important book on arguably the most crucial policy challenge facing governments today: the incessant growth of inequality. Lars Osberg provides a reasoned, yet compassionate, account of inequality in Canada and the policy challenges it entails, and he does so in a highly readable way. He carefully documents the growth in income inequality; explains its sources, especially the growth of incomes at the top combined with stagnation of middle and lower incomes; outlines its consequences for Canadian economic and social well-being; warns about trends likely to exacerbate the problem in the near future; and advocates a set of policies to address the issue. This is a first-class account by a first-class progressive thinker. The approach is balanced but incisive, and the multi-faceted remedies are both realistic and compelling. The arguments deserve to be heeded by concerned citizens, policy makers and scholars alike."

- Robin Boadway, Emeritus Professor of Economics, Queen's University

"The book is clear and accessible. Still, Osberg doesn't gloss over the complexity and multi-dimensional nature of the issue ... The Age of Increasing Inequality is a valuable starting point in understanding how our increasingly unequal Canada came to be. This is crucial information if we want to change it."

- Yutaka Dirks Rabble

"Osberg has been studying this topic for decades, since long before it was a hot topic ... Had somebody been listening to Osberg then, we might not be where we are at today."

- Atlantic Books Today

"Lars Osberg employs an effective mixture of hard data, well-placed anecdotes, and solutions to create a thorough and multifaceted examination of the issue … Osberg offers one of the most convincing policy prescriptions that I've read yet."

- Quill and Quire

"Thoughtful, brilliant, soft-spoken and genuinely concerned about the impact of growing inequality on democracy, Canadian society and Canadians, Osberg's new book examines decades of income data and issues a stern warning about the consequences of inequality: worrisome instability."

- Lana Payne The Telegram

LARS OSBERG is a Professor of Economics at Dalhousie University with research interests in labour economics and income and wealth distribution. He received his PhD in Economics from Yale University and has published numerous articles in academic journals and seven books, including Unnecessary Debts, co-edited with Pierre Fortin. He is a past President of the Canadian Economics Association.

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Publication Details:

Binding: Hardback, 248 pages
Publication Date: 11th September 2018
ISBN: 9781459413139
Format: 9in x 6in
charts, graphs, tables

Binding: Electronic book text, 248 pages
Publication Date: 11th September 2018
ISBN: 9781459413146
Format: EPUB
charts, graphs, tables

BISAC Code:, BUS022000, BUS023000, POL024000, SOC045000, SOC050000
Imprint: Lorimer


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