Wealth inequality is a global issue of increasing economic and social importance, with growing awareness that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is increasing. Furthermore, an abundance of statistical research demonstrates that the proportion of GDP of many countries in the developed and developing world consisting of unearned income derived from capital is growing year on year. At the same time the share of GDP paid out as earned income such as wages and salaries continues to fall. A key question is what role the law plays in all of this and what should law do about this situation? And, how do different areas of the law interact to affect inequality?
While lots of research has been undertaken by economists, political and social scientists, criminologists and sociologists to study the causes and impact of inequality, there is comparatively little work carried out by legal scholars on the role that law (including labour law, bankruptcy law, corporate law, inheritance law but also other aspects of both private and public law) has played and plays in this context. In particular, there is little work on the legal foundations of wealth inequality that is also both comparative and historical in outlook. Led by Professor Alexandra Braun, this project aims to fill this gap.