Science Breakfast: Addressing Economic Inequality in a Globalised World

Hosted by Mars, Incorporated

Thursday, 24 August 2017
07:00 - 08:45 hrs CEST


Income inequality in OECD countries is at its highest level for the past half century. In emerging economies, the situation is worse — the benefits of economic growth have not been evenly distributed and levels of income inequality are significantly higher than the OECD average. Is globalization to blame?

In this Science Breakfast hosted by Mars, Incorporated, Professor Eric Maskin (2007 Nobel laureate in economics), Dr. Howard-Yana Shapiro (Chief Agricultural Officer, Mars) and a selected young economist will explore the causes of income inequality and how they can be addressed. The discussion will be moderated by economist Romesh Vaitilingam.

The theory of comparative advantage predicts that globalization should cause inequality in emerging economies to fall. However, it can be argued that this has not been true of the current wave of globalization. Although average income has been rising, not all workers in developing countries have benefitted. The gap between rich and poor is becoming bigger in many such countries, and the same is true for highly developed countries, too.

This panel discussion between laureates, industry practitioners, and young economists will explore these issues. Attendees will be asked how a globalized economy could be tweaked so that people at the bottom get something out of it. Can investment in education and science and technology narrow the gap? What should be the role of governments, international agencies, NGOs, and even companies?

7:00 a.m. – 7:30 a.m. Breakfast
7:30 a.m. – 8:40 a.m. Discussion

Prof. Eric Maskin is Adams University Professor at Harvard. He received the 2007 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics with L. Hurwicz and R. Myerson for laying the foundations of mechanism design theory. He also has made contributions to game theory, contract theory, social choice theory, political economy, and other areas of economics. He received his A.B. and Ph.D. from Harvard and was a postdoctoral fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge University. He was a faculty member at MIT from 1977-1984, Harvard from 1985-2000, and the Institute for Advanced Study from 2000-2011. He re-joined the Harvard faculty in 2012.

Dr. Howard-Yana Shapiro is the Chief Agricultural Officer of Mars, Incorporated – one of the world’s largest privately-owned food companies. He has more than 35 years’ experience working with sustainable agricultural and agroforestry systems, plant systems, plant genetics, and food production systems across the world. In his role as Chief Agricultural Officer at Mars, Dr. Shapiro is responsible for the plant science of the company's primary agricultural products, as well as the investigation of potential new plant-based solutions. Dr. Shapiro leads Mars’ involvement in the African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC), a cross-sector collaboration to sequence, assemble and annotate the genomes of 101 traditional African food crops to improve their nutritional value, productivity and climatic adaptability. Dr. Shapiro is a Senior Fellow at the College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences of the University of California, Davis and a Distinguished Fellow at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

Moderator: Romesh Vaitilingam is an economist, writer, and media consultant. Romesh has written many articles and several successful books in economics, finance, business and public policy. He has advised a number of government agencies and international institutions, including the European Central Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the UK's Department for International Development. Most recently, Romesh launched his own project: Communicating Economics, an online platform which provides tips to academic economists and media professionals on how to make economics accessible to a wider audience.

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