Within the framework of
the P.W. Segers Chair – named after
the leading figure from the post-war
Christian workers’ movement –
UCSIA, together with the
Faculty of Applied Economics,
the Herman Deleeck Centre
for Social Policy (CSB) and
the Institute of Development Policy
and Management (IOB),
welcomed Prof. Branko Milanović
from 19 to 21 September 2017,
for a doctoral seminar, lecture,
and panel debate.
Due to their strong economic growth, densely populated Asian countries such as
China or India have been able to keep up with the income growth of Europe and
North America. Many people worldwide now earn the median world income. On
their left they find a group of 10% of world citizens in absolute poverty; on their
right, a small group of a few % super rich. By 2050, inequality between countries
will decrease further, but inequality within poor and rich countries will increase.
That has destabilizing social and political consequences.
The ‘elephant curve’ shows that the income of the lower middle class in the USA
and the United Kingdom is stagnating. It feels surpassed by the working population
in the up-and-coming Asia, which is getting richer, and fears that their jobs
may disappear due to cheap export or outsourcing of production. According to
some, this explains the populist voting behaviour for Brexit and Trump.
The guest speaker believes that traditional instruments for income redistribution,
such as progressive taxes, social insurance and transfers, no longer work. He is
an advocate of equal opportunities, also worldwide, and expects great investment
in education and training or tax benefits for the poor rather than bonuses for
wealthy shareholders. This is how poor people in poor countries obtain the keys
to a higher income.
New migration waves suffer low ratings in public opinion in the North due to many
reasons – and fears – yet Prof. Milanović advocates circular migration with an
intermediary statute of citizenship. It protects the wages and working conditions
of migrants on the basis of multilateral agreements, but by limiting the length
of stay, imposing higher taxes or lower social benefits, it implies that the migrants
do not have the same rights as the residents of the country where they work.
The public and panel reflected on this view, and some had a hard time with the
utilitarian nature of the proposal. In Belgium, 100,000 migrants work illegally
in low-paid jobs and without social protection. In the Gulf countries, ‘openness
to migration’ almost amounts to tolerating slavery. Governments, employers
and employees accept increased migration under conditions such as the ILO
Fair Recruitment Initiative.
The ILO Global Compact on Migration (2018) is based
on the principle that social protection and labour rights must not differ between
national and foreign employees.
Read the summary of the proceedings (pdf-document).