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What We Owe Each Other

A New Social Contract for a Better Society

Minouche Shafik

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Sozialwissenschaften, Recht, Wirtschaft / Wirtschaft


From one of the leading policy experts of our time, an urgent rethinking of how we can better support each other to thrive

Whether we realize it or not, all of us participate in the social contract every day through mutual obligations among our family, community, place of work, and fellow citizens. Caring for others, paying taxes, and benefiting from public services define the social contract that supports and binds us together as a society. Today, however, our social contract has been broken by changing gender roles, technology, new models of work, aging, and the perils of climate change.

Minouche Shafik takes us through stages of life we all experience—raising children, getting educated, falling ill, working, growing old—and shows how a reordering of our societies is possible. Drawing on evidence and examples from around the world, she shows how every country can provide citizens with the basics to have a decent life and be able to contribute to society. But we owe each other more than this. A more generous and inclusive society would also share more risks collectively and ask everyone to contribute for as long as they can so that everyone can fulfill their potential. What We Owe Each Other identifies the key elements of a better social contract that recognizes our interdependencies, supports and invests more in each other, and expects more of individuals in return.

Powerful, hopeful, and thought-provoking, What We Owe Each Other provides practical solutions to current challenges and demonstrates how we can build a better society—together.

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Amartya Sen, World Health Organization, Entitlement, Payment, Private sector, Tax incidence, Wealth, Unemployment, Funding, Skill, Government debt, Capitalism, Developing country, World Bank Group, Poverty, Economist, Guaranteed minimum income, Politics, Prenatal care, Work–life balance, Unemployment benefits, Pension, Minimum wage, Institution, Health care, Fabian Society, Life expectancy, Infrastructure, Suggestion, Retirement, Infant mortality, Health economics, Employment, Welfare state, Debt, Payroll tax, Income, Obesity, Economic growth, Health insurance, Milton Friedman, Developed country, Tax revenue, Department for International Development, Social protection, Participation (decision making), Subjective well-being, Latin America, Gratitude, Technology, Sanitation, Parental leave, Well-being, Informal sector, Welfare, Precarious work, Politician, Education, Wage, Universal health care, Cost–benefit analysis, Economic inequality, Health system, Natural capital, Future generation, Interest rate, Grandparent, Social insurance, Year, Income distribution, Cash transfers, Adult education, Publishing, Incentive, Financial crisis of 2007–08, Workforce, Tax, Requirement, Copyright, Consumption (economics), Beveridge Report, Competition, Standard of living, Globalization, Insurance, Household, Lifelong learning, Meta-analysis, Demography, Economy, Thomas Piketty, Career, Retirement age, Job security, Trade union, Unpaid work, Saving, Child care, Provision (contracting), Subsidy