Using a wealth of examples and empirical data, the book explores the social costs entailed by relative deprivation and widespread income insecurity, costs which affect not just the poor but now reach well into the middle classes. Uniquely, the author shows how inequality, changing consumption patterns and global financial turbulence are interlinked.
The view that growing inequality is an inevitable consequence of globalisation and that public finances must be squeezed is firmly rejected. Instead, it is argued that advanced economies need more progressive taxation to dampen fluctuations and to fund higher levels of social provision, taking the Nordic countries as exemplary. The broad political goal should be to return within a generation to the lower degree of income inequality which prevailed in Britain and the US during the years of post-war prosperity.