A transformative new way of tackling the current divisions and future challenges that societies the world over now face — from the Director of the LSE
Throughout history, humans who live together have had to answer the question, ‘what do we owe each other?’
Childcare, education, nursing for the sick, support for the elderly and those who cannot provide for themselves – every one of us will need some or all of these things over the course of our lives. How we ensure their provision – ‘the social contract’ – is what shapes our societies and defines our politics. Shafik argues that our current period of political turbulence stems from outdated social contracts, which have failed to accommodate massive changes in demography, work and the expectations of women. They are also woefully ill-equipped to tackle the major challenges of the 21st century: pandemic, ageing populations, the impact of technology and the climate crisis.
Gathering evidence from across the world, Shafik looks at each stage of life, from birth to old age, comparing different countries’ answers to this inescapable question and presents a path toward a new and more generous social contract – between the individual and society, between men and women, between young and old, between rich and poor – fit for today’s world. Shafik shows how our values and economies are inextricable, and how each society must navigate a new social contract suited to new realities. But solutions are available – and this brilliantly lucid book makes them available to us all.