Inequality is a contentious issue. It has been described in recent years as “the biggest threat to the world” and “a blemish on Asia’s growth story”, yet its importance continues to be denied by policymakers and commentators who persist in pointing to GDP figures as the universal recognisable hallmark of prudent stewardship. Supporting this position, a popular perspective among economic liberals holds it is equality of opportunity, not income, that matters. Metaphorically speaking, “a rising tide lifts all boats”, even if transient waves of fortune leave some looking up or down at others.
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