Proceedings of Annual Paris Business Research Conference

Proceedings of Annual Paris Business Research Conference
13 - 14 August 2015, Crowne Plaza Hotel Republique, Paris, France
ISBN: 978-1-922069-82-5
Technological Change, Wealth Distribution, Policymaking,
and Politics: The Interplay between Agency and Structures
Julio Huato and Deputy Chair
Piketty’s (2014) Capital in the Twenty-First Century offered ample confirmation of the
increase in wealth inequality spanning over half a century. The ensuing theoretical
debate has identify two main forces underlying this remarkable phenomenon: (1) capitaland skill-biased technological change (inclusive of “globalization”) and (2) “institutional
change” (i.e. changes in ideology, ethics, politics, and legislation). Piketty, as well as
other authors (e.g. Acemoglou and Robinson (2015), Stiglitz (2015), Violante (2008), inter
alia), have noted the complex nature of the interrelations among technological and
institutional change. This essay offers an unifying analytical framework to frame the
interplay among the fundamental forces shaping up wealth distribution. The unifying
notion is that of a social allocation of the ultimate human resource (individual ability to
deploy focused active time). The state of technology, wealth distribution, and the legalpolitical configuration of society are different “layered” aspects or structures inherent to
one and the same social allocation. This “layered” view highlights the different degree of
fluidity or, alternatively, rigidity of each of these structures to individual human
agency. The essay distinguishes between two types of causal forces, one type
capturing constraining (or enabling) “structures” and the other capturing intentional
“agency,” and it concludes with a brief discussion of the challenges facing the time-series
analysis estimation of these relationships.
Dr. Julio Huato and Mr. Deputy Chair, Dept of Economics, History, Political Science, and Social Studies,
St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA