LIS Director Janet Gornick delivers keynote address to UN General Assembly

Janet Gornick, Director of the LIS Center in New York and Director of LIS in Luxembourg, delivered a keynote address to the United Nations General Assembly, on Tuesday, October 7. Her keynote address was hosted by the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) of the UN General Assembly.

Gornick’s talk, titled “High and Rising Inequality: Causes and Consequences,” was delivered to senior delegates from 193 member states of the General Assembly, as well as representatives of UN development agencies. It was followed by a one-hour question-and-answer period.

Gornick addressed recent trends in income inequality, with a focus on causes and consequences. She also discussed the effects on inequality of women’s rising economic activity and closed with remarks about data that enable the study of inequality across countries and over time.

“I’m honored by this invitation and excited for the Graduate Center and for LIS,” she said. “This gives me an opportunity to shine a spotlight on work that we’ve been doing for many years.”

A leading scholar of social welfare policy and its effects on socio-economic inequalities, Gornick has been associated with LIS for 25 years. After working for 20 years on gender gaps in the labor market, she has shifted her attention in the last five years to income distributions. She noted that the UN’s request that she speak about income inequality confirms the current “explosion of interest” in inequality —a field of study labeled “poisonous”, as recently as 10 years ago, by a Nobel Laureate in Economics.

“The thinking was that studying inequality signaled an attack on the rich, and that it might deter investment and productivity,” she said. “And now here we are with this worldwide attention on inequality. It’s exciting that, this year, the UN has flagged income inequality as the economic and financial issue of the day.”

A video of the address is available on the UN’s website.

A longer version of the video, which includes the question-and-answer period (at minute 56:00) is available here.

October 6, 2014 | News