What Does Inequality Have to Do With Human Rights?

by: James Heintz, Diane Elson, Radhika Balakrishnan

August 04, 2015 |
Working Paper

What is the relationship between human rights and inequalities in income and wealth? Different approaches to understanding inequality have distinct implications for how we think about issues of well-being and social justice. The human rights framework offers an approach that stands in marked contrast to neoclassical economic theory. The human rights approach has started to engage more thoroughly with the question of inequalities in income and wealth, but offers only partial guidance on the implications of increasingly polarized societies. This paper looks at how income and wealth inequality affects realized outcomes with regard to the enjoyment of specific rights and how the distribution of resources affects political dynamics and power relations within which specific rights are realized. 

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