Fitzwilliam alumnus and Honorary Fellow Professor Sir Angus Deaton is leading a review into inequality in the United Kingdom in the 21st century.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank announced the five-year review on Tuesday, designed to understand how inequalities arise, which ones matter, why they matter, and how they should be addressed.
Sir Angus, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2016, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Part of this inquiry is trying to find out what it is that really bothers people, what are the bits of it that are really troublesome and what should we really do about it. And is it threatening our society, for instance? Is it threatening our democracy in some way?
“Income inequality is important, but I don’t think it’s as important in explaining what’s happening in Britain today, for instance, as inequality in access to education, inequality in access to health, inequality in political access.
“That’s an inequality of political voice, which in some ways is even worse.”
The 73-year-old Edinburgh-born scholar holds dual British and American citizenship and read Economics at Fitzwilliam College from 1964, achieving his doctorate in 1975.
After teaching at the University of Cambridge and serving as a professor at the University of Bristol, he joined Princeton University in 1983.
He is a Senior Scholar and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs Emeritus at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Economics Department at Princeton University.
He is also a Presidential Professor of Economics at the University of Southern California and his main current research areas are poverty, inequality, health, wellbeing, economic development.
Sir Angus also warned of the risk of the UK following the United States, which has extreme inequality levels in pay, wealth and health.
“I think that people getting rich is a good thing, especially when it brings prosperity to others,” Sir Angus added.
“But the other kind of getting rich, ‘taking’ rather than ‘making’, rent-seeking rather than creating, enriching the few at the expense of the many, taking the free out of free markets, is making a mockery of democracy. In that world, inequality and misery are intimate companions.”