Wednesday, May 5, 2021

What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract for a Better Society (Minouche Shafik)

Minouche Shafik's What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract for a Better Society advocates for a rethinking of how societies can support each other to help improve economic and societal conditions for all. The book is written with an eye to thinking about how tweaking (and improving) parts of the social contract between government and citizens can result in better outcomes for all.

Shafik covers all stages of life - raising children, education, health, and retirement - and talks about how improving conditions for all through providing stronger social safety nets will yield improved economic, health, and educational performances in countries. While her audience is directed globally, the author is adept at utilizing examples from Europe and “Western” societies and those from elsewhere around the globe to show various models that work and how these models can be adapted in other places if necessary. Shafik spends a relatively short amount of time talking about how those improvements to the safety net can be properly financed - this is an area that could have used additional focus. 

What We Owe Each Other is organized and thoughtful and offers a fresh perspective on how governments should organize social contracts with its citizens. While some of the ideas proposed may be very difficult to see implemented and get financed, the discussion of how to improve benefits and support systems for people is worth having.