Capital’s Offense: Law’s Entrenchment of Inequality

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Capital in the 21st Centurya review of Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Harvard University Press, 2014)
by Frank Pasquale
Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century has succeeded both commercially and as a work of scholarship. Capital‘s empirical research is widely praised among economists—even by those who disagree with its policy prescriptions.  It is also the best-selling book in the century-long history of Harvard University Press, and a rare work of scholarship to reach the top spot on Amazon sales rankings.[1]

Capital‘s main methodological contribution is to bring economic, sociological, and even literary perspectives to bear in a work of economics.[2] The book bridges positive and normative social science, offering strong policy recommendations for increased taxation of the wealthiest. It is also an exploration of historical trends.[3] In Capital, fifteen years of careful archival research culminate in a striking thesis: capitalism exacerbates inequality over time. There…

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