Piketty, capital and education: a solution to, or problem in, rising social inequalities?

Susan L Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
466 Downloads (Pure)


When Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-first Century was released in 2014, it became an overnight success. Piketty focused on the concentration of wealth in a tiny social elite, and showed that their wealth had increased following the financial crisis in 2008. Yet the value of Piketty’s book offers something more than this for social scientists concerned with social inequalities. His work on a large data-set of long-run income and wealth statistics illustrates that the assumptions and models which have guided the work of neoclassical economists are flawed, but that societal arrangements matter. Yet despite this insight, Piketty’s solution to the problem of inequality is to argue that ‘… the best way to reduce inequalities with respect to labor … is to invest in education’. In this article I argue that there are major problems with this proposed solution and outline three lacunae that need to be addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)823-835
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number6
Early online date19 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • Piketty
  • education policy
  • political economy
  • wealth
  • social justice
  • labour markets


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