Increasing Income Inequality in the Nordics - How do we handle it?

Recent decades have seen a strong trend towards increasing income inequalities in all advanced economies. Although the Nordic countries have traditionally been characterized by low income dispersion, they have also been exposed to this trend. This conference will focus on widening income differentials in the Nordics and appropriate policies to address the issue. The conference will be chaired by Claus Thustrup Kreiner, University of Copenhagen.

Key issues that will be analysed are:

  • How do income inequality in the Nordic countries relate to the international trend?

  • Which similarities and differences in developments of income inequality are there among the Nordic countries? How have policies responded to increasing income differentials?

  • What are the implications of demographic changes, such as an ageing population and migration, for income inequality?

  • How much can – and should – tax and benefit policies do in order to even out income differentials? What can, and should, education policy do?

  • How important is the gender dimension for income distribution developments?

At the conference, preliminary versions of papers commissioned for the 2018 issue of the Nordic Economic Policy Review, will be presented and discussed. The issue is edited by professor Lars Calmfors, Stockholm University and professor Jesper Roine, Stockholm School of Economics. The papers are written by leading international and Nordic scholars in the field. They will be commented by both policy makers and academic colleagues. The conference will also include a panel discussion on income distribution policies with participation of policy makers.

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9.00 – 9.10 Opening remarks by Simon Emil Ammitzbøll, Danish Minister for Economic Affairs and the Interior

9.10 – 9.55 Jon Parelliusen, Christophe André, Causa Orsetta and Mikkel Hermansen, OECD: The International Trend towards More Income Dispersion and the Nordic Countries. Comments by John Hassler, Stockholm University and Jørgen Elmeskov, Statistics Denmark.

9.55 – 10.40 Jakob Egholt Søgaard, University of Copenhagen and Danish Ministry of Taxation: Income Dispersion and Top Incomes in the Nordic Countries. Comments by David Domeij, Stockholm School of Economics and Niels Ploug, Statistics Denmark.

10.40 – 11.00 Coffee break

11.00 – 11.45 Markus Jäntti, VATT and University of Helsinki: Developments of Income Inequality and Poverty in the Nordic Countries. Comments by Steinar Holden, University of Oslo and Katinka Hort, Swedish Ministry of Finance.

11.45 – 13.00 Lunch

13.00 – 13.45 Per-Olof Robling, Stockholm University and Jon Parelliusen, OECD: The Importance of Demography for the Development of Income Dispersion in the Nordic Countries. Comments by Thorvaldur Gylfason, University of Iceland and Arent Skjaeveland, Norwegian Ministry of Finance.

13.45 -14.30 Anne Boschini, Stockholm University and Kristin Gunnarsson, Uppsala University: Gender Dimensions of Income Dispersion in the Nordic Countries. Comments by Anna Sandberg, Stockholm University and Lars Haagen Petersen, Danish Ministry of Finance.

14.30 – 15.00 Coffee break

15.00 – 15.45 Rolf Aaberge, Audun Langørgen and Petter Lindgren, Statistics Norway: The Distributional Impact of Public Services in the Nordic Countries. Comments by Jukka Pirttilä, WIDER and Tuulia Hakola, Finnish Ministry of Finance.

15.45 – 17.00 Panel Discussion on Increasing Income Inequality in the Nordic Countries and Appropriate Policies: Roger Björnstad, Chief Economist, Norwegian LO, Lars Calmfors, Professor emeritus, Stockholm University and Chair of Swedish Labour Policy Council (Moderator), Max Elger, State Secretary, Swedish Ministry of Finance, Jørgen Elmeskov, Director General, Statistics Denmark, Sixten Korkman, Professor emeritus, Aalto University and Jesper Roine, Professor of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics.