Apur'labo #2 - Inequality in the 21st Century: developments and public action

November 2021, last updated 10 December 2021
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Inequality in the 21st Century: developments and public action © Apur

Thomas Aguilera and Tom Chevalier, who are respectively a lecturer in political science at the University of Rennes - Science Po Rennes and a CNRS researcher at  the Arènes Laboratory, have put together a review of literature on inequalities in the 21st century. It juxtaposes how they evolved after the welfare state was established with the economic changes and regulatory tools. Indeed, the changes in the economy, which began in the 1970s, led to new social risks such as the development of low-quality jobs, the fragmentation of professional career paths and young people’s access to employment. Faced with the inadequacy of some of the welfare state’s original tools which were not adapted to combatting these phenomena, the two researchers recommend the use of complementary political measures spread over different time-frames. They particularly emphasise the importance of investing in the human capital at the different stages of life.

At a territorial level, the literature review highlights the contrasting effect of policies, such as the reintegration of inequalities via equalising measures versus new inequalities being produced. The authors also stress how strategic planning (development, land management, infrastructures, etc.) and the production of social housing, carried out by local public players, are important tools in combatting inequality.

This document is a contribution to the Economic Forecasting Lab of the Observatory of the Parisian Economy.

The Observatory, which is run by Apur in partnership with the City of Paris Department of Attractiveness and Employment (DAE), focuses on analysing specificities of the Parisian economy and assessing the impact of support measures. This process is based on the monitoring and analysis of data on the current economic situation (Part 1), and by carrying out in-depth thematic studies in liaison with the Observatory’s partners (Part 2).  

The Observatory also aims to develop forward-looking thinking to support recovery, to anticipate changes in the economy and to imagine forward-looking developments to meet future needs. In this spirit, the Economic Forecasting Lab (Part 3) relies on contributions made by researchers and experts. 

In the context of Part 3, a first series of contributions has been made around three major themes: the financial structure of a city within a 20 year time-frame, the new strategic economic sectors, the fight against inequalities as a factor in the  development of territories. This literature review is part of the third theme.



Thomas Aguilera © Thomas Aguilera

Thomas Aquilera is a lecturer in political science at Rennes University - Sciences Po Rennes. He is Deputy Director of the Arènes UMR 6051 Laboratory and associate researcher at the European Centre of Studies and Comparative Politics (CEE) of Science Po. He works on public action, territorial governance and social movements, in a comparative approach and on the methods of social sciences. His research focuses, more specifically, on public policies that address informal housing, the effects of social movements on urban policies and the regulation of platform capitalism in Europe.

Tom Chevalier © Tom Chevalier

Tom Chevalier is a CNRS research fellow at the Arènes Laboratory, associated with the Centre of European Studies and Comparative Politics (CEE) and the Interdisciplinary Laboratory for the Evaluation of Public Policies (LIEPP) of Science Po. His work focuses on public policies (social, education and employment policies) for young people in Europe, as well as on poverty and young people’s relationship with politics.

Presentation of the intervention :

Webconference of November 26, 2021:


Documents to download

  • Contribution

    Inequality in the 21st century: Capitalism, State and Territories - State of the Art

    Format : pdf, 2.06 MB
  • Contribution

    Report of exchanges - Inequality in the 21st century: Capitalism, State and Territories

    Format : pdf, 1.58 MB