Sustainable Development Goals and Income Inequality
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Sustainable Development Goals and Income Inequality

Edited by Peter A.G. van Bergeijk and Rolph van der Hoeven

This timely book documents and analyses the seriousness of growing national inequality in different regions around the world. It argues that the treatment of inequality in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is wholly insufficient due to their failure to recognise the growing difference between the income of work and the income of capital and the super rich, and the strain this places on a country’s social fabric.
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Chapter 8: Poverty, employment and inequality in the SDGs: heterodox discourse, orthodox policies?

Malte Luebker


Malte Luebker recalls that employment and labour issues were entirely absent from the initial set of MDGs, and that only in 2005, somewhat hastily, a new target was added to address this oversight. He therefore welcomes that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development makes ample reference to employment and inequality. Goal 8 is devoted to ‘Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all’ and expands on two familiar themes, productivity and employment, while adding labour rights as a new element. The more nuanced treatment of labour arguably presents a notable advance in attaining a wider set of progressive policies concerned with addressing rising inequalities. While the SDGs are strong on some policies that have direct impact on the primary and secondary distribution of incomes, they lack an explicit endorsement of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. Hence, they fail to mention the mechanisms that give workers a voice and a meaningful stake in development.

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