Global Master of Public Policy

Inequality: the defining issue of this century

Jun 8, 2017 9:21:11 AM


Contemporary economic growth is also a story of rising inequality.  For example, in the United States, average annual income is over $50,000, whereas in Niger per person income per year is under $500, or less than one percent of that in the United States.  But even within developed countries, inequality is rising.  There is also a significant urban-rural divide in education, opportunities, and fiscal growth potential.  How can governments and businesses face these emerging issues with attainable solutions?

The transition to a high-tech, knowledge-heavy, service economyhas only widened the gaps in income between wealthy and poor.  Modern economic growth is unprecedented, but low-income countries and communities are being left behind.  The USC-HKU Master of Global Public Policy (MGPP) program will teach students how to think analytically about economic growth, urban development, and fiscal responsibility through a wide range of statistical and methodological techniques that will be useful in nearly every professional environment.

Dr. Pengyu Zhu, Assistant Professor at Hong Kong University in the Social Sciences is an expert in international urban planning and design, transportation, land use, and economic development.  Zhu and Dong’s 2014 paper Smart growth in two contrastive metropolitan areas: A comparison between Portland and Los Angeles operationalizes six smart growth indices to analyze spatial distributional patterns and time trends in each locality.  Zhu’s other research explores the dynamics of telecommuting versus personal travel and how these variables impact environmental sustainability.  Zhu will be teaching the Methods for Policy Evaluation course in the MGPP program.

Research on the relationship between technology, transportation, and economic growth shows that the global forces shaping economies continue to shift industries to knowledge and service based systems.  Investing in education and infrastructure will be key to economic growth in developing countries, and the MGPP program will help graduates learn the analytical tools necessary to devise and implement policies that can close the inequality gap within their own country.  People with astute analytical skills will be critical players in achieving sustainable growth and development goals in the future, which will require smart fiscal investments in every sector and strong private-public partnerships.

One of the global challenges addressed in the MGPP program is economic growth and fiscal stability.  Dambisa Moyo, in her 2015 Ted Talks Economic growth has stalled. Let’s fix it argues that this will be thedefining 21st century issue that global society must overcome.  Moyo poses that both state-sponsored and market driven approaches to capitalism have nurtured corruption and increased income inequality, and it will be up to innovative leadership and governance to find a blend of the best financial models to foster growth in the future. 

Kevin Baron

Written by Kevin Baron