Edited by Heather Boushey, J. Bradford DeLong and Marshall Steinbaum

After Piketty
Editions:Hardcover: $ 35.00
ISBN: 9780674504776
Pages: 688

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is the most widely discussed work of economics in recent history, selling millions of copies in dozens of languages. But are its analyses of inequality and economic growth on target? Where should researchers go from here in exploring the ideas Piketty pushed to the forefront of global conversation? A cast of economists and other social scientists tackle these questions in dialogue with Piketty, in what is sure to be a much-debated book in its own right.

After Piketty opens with a discussion by Arthur Goldhammer, the book’s translator, of the reasons for Capital’s phenomenal success, followed by the published reviews of Nobel laureates Paul Krugman and Robert Solow. The rest of the book is devoted to newly commissioned essays that interrogate Piketty’s arguments:

  • Suresh Naidu and other contributors ask whether Piketty said enough about power, slavery, and the complex nature of capital.
  • Laura Tyson and Michael Spence consider the impact of technology on inequality.
  • Heather Boushey, Branko Milanovic, and others consider topics ranging from gender to trends in the global South.
  • Emmanuel Saez lays out an agenda for future research on inequality, while a variety of essayists examine the book’s implications for the social sciences more broadly.

Piketty replies to these questions in a substantial concluding chapter.

An indispensable interdisciplinary work, After Piketty does not shy away from the seemingly intractable problems that made Capital in the Twenty-First Century so compelling for so many.

Reviews:Melissa S. Kearney on Foreign Affairs wrote:

"The essays put Piketty’s arguments into a broad historical and intellectual context and highlight some noteworthy omissions that call into question his book’s most dire predictions. At the end of the volume, Piketty himself weighs in. The result is an intellectual excursion of a kind rarely offered by modern economics."

Asad Abbasi on LSE Review of Books wrote:

"After Piketty: The Agenda for Economics and Inequality[...] further explores the ‘process by which wealth is accumulated’ and the ‘powerful forces’ that shape the divergence. After Piketty starts with a neat, formal summary of Piketty’s Capital, serving as a solid foundation for anyone not familiar with this work. The thrust of After Piketty is not that Piketty got everything wrong in his analysis but that he missed a few important points, which this book highlights. [...] After Piketty is split into five parts. The first discusses reception of Piketty’s Capital, and in the last section Piketty is given an opportunity to respond to the ideas discussed in the volume. The middle three sections, which form the core of the text, are ‘Conceptions of Capital’, ‘Dimensions of Inequality’ and ‘Political Economy of Capital and Capitalism’. The editors have done an astute job assembling chapters of such variety under these categories. Though George Orwell is referenced in this book, After Piketty is no Animal Farm. Readers without a background in economics will find some chapters daunting, terminology-wise. [...] After Piketty is not your typical holiday read. It is work of serious scholarship. The academic language of some chapters pinpoints its intended audience: scholars, students, policymakers and politicians."

Paschal Donohoe on The Irish Times wrote:

"despite its size, this collection misses so much. Warning signs are found in the introduction. The editors describe themselves as 'definite fans', a position they are perfectly entitled to hold. But their admiration goes further: of criticism of Capital in the 21st Century (C21), they write that 'we see a large number of arguments that seem to us to be largely substance-free', made by critics guilty of 'amateur psychological diagnosis'. Some of their arguments are 'more like things designed to reassure standard billionaires who are hoping to establish a dynasty'. This is such a pity. Piketty has made a wonderful contribution to modern economics. His insights resonate with our discontents. But this does not invalidate potent criticisms of C21. Such challenges have included questioning whether laws can exist in economics, whether the digital economy disrupts the accumulation and transfer of wealth, and even whether Piketty confuses wealth with capital. [...] Readers looking for an introduction to Piketty will need to look elsewhere, perhaps to his earlier, far shorter The Economics of Inequality. So this is a disappointing collection for those seeking a rounded appreciation of his thinking."

Relevant Links

Table of Contents of After Piketty

  1. Introduction: Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Three Years Later [J. Bradford DeLong, Heather Boushey, and Marshall Steinbaum]

I. Reception

  1. The Piketty Phenomenon [Arthur Goldhammer]
  2. Thomas Piketty Is Right [Robert M. Solow]
  3. Why We’re in a New Gilded Age [Paul Krugman]

II. Conceptions of Capital

  1. What’s Wrong with Capital in the Twenty-First Century’s Model? [Devesh Raval]
  2. A Political Economy Take on W / Y [Suresh Naidu]
  3. The Ubiquitous Nature of Slave Capital [Daina Ramey Berry]
  4. Human Capital and Wealth before and after Capital in the Twenty-First Century [Eric R. Nielsen]
  5. Exploring the Effects of Technology on Income and Wealth Inequality [Laura Tyson and Michael Spence]
  6. Income Inequality, Wage Determination, and the Fissured Workplace [David Weil]

III. Dimensions of Inequality

  1. Increasing Capital Income Share and Its Effect on Personal Income Inequality [Branko Milanovic]
  2. Global Inequality [Christoph Lakner]
  3. The Geographies of Capital in the Twenty-First Century: Inequality, Political Economy, and Space [Gareth A. Jones]
  4. The Research Agenda after Capital in the Twenty-First Century [Emmanuel Saez]
  5. Macro Models of Wealth Inequality [Mariacristina De Nardi, Giulio Fella, and Fang Yang]
  6. A Feminist Interpretation of Patrimonial Capitalism [Heather Boushey]
  7. What Does Rising Inequality Mean For the Macroeconomy? [Mark Zandi]
  8. Rising Inequality and Economic Stability [Salvatore Morelli]

IV. The Political Economy of Capital and Capitalism

  1. Inequality and the Rise of Social Democracy: An Ideological History [Marshall I. Steinbaum]
  2. The Legal Constitution of Capitalism [David Singh Grewal]
  3. The Historical Origins of Global Inequality [Ellora Derenoncourt]
  4. Everywhere and Nowhere: Politics in Capital in the Twenty-First Century [Elisabeth Jacobs]

V. Piketty Responds

  1. Toward a Reconciliation between Economics and the Social Sciences [Thomas Piketty]