• Oxford Hayek Society

Len Shackleton: Defending Pay Inequality

Updated: Mar 19

This is part of a series of blogposts republishing previous events of the Oxford Hayek Society and the Oxford Libertarian Society. The original blogpost was published here.

On Tuesday 19 May 2009, Professor Len Shackleton, Dean of the Royal Docks Business School at the University of East London, addressed the Oxford Libertarian Society on the subject of: 'Defending Pay Inequality'.

You can find a YouTube video of the talk below.

Behind the backdrop of the Equality Bill being discussed by Parliament and its worrying extension of state power, Len made the case against popular concerns regarding high wages, the exploitation of the poorest and the gender pay gap.

While exploring topical issues like bankers' bonuses, footballers' wages and the minimum wage, Len argued that interventionist policies in the labour market enforcing pay equality ignore the lessons of previous government interventions and lack any sound economic basis.

Len discussed the topic in his recent book with the Institute of Economic Affairs, Should We Mind the Pay Gap? (2008), in which he found that the gender pay gap could be explained by educational and lifestyle choices, as well as the different employments preferred by different genders. His findings inform his conclusion that well-intentioned but misinformed attempts to legislate for equal pay threaten free societies.

Len also wrote on this topic for the IEA's blog, wherein arguing against claims that pay distributions are unfair, he quoted our former namesake, FA Hayek:

"Though a great many people are dissatisfied with the existing pattern of distribution, none of them has any clear idea of what pattern he would regard as just."

Professor Len Shackleton is Professor of Economics and Dean of the Royal Docks Business School at the University of East London. He was previously Dean of Westminster Business School and has taught at both Queen Mary, University of London, and the University of Buckingham. Prior to his academic career, he worked as an economist in the civil service. He has published widely in academic journals and writes regularly for leading thinktanks, including the Institute of Economic Affairs.

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