Why is life for many people in rich countries blighted by persistent problems associated with unequal living standards, housing costs, taxes and benefits? The Economic and Social Research Council is investing £49 million to find answers. Fred Harrison argues, in the 2nd edition of The Power in the Land, that there are no mysteries to be solved. Scientists just need to focus on the root cause.

In a new introduction on the post-pandemic era, Harrison traces the structural causes of socially significant crises to the tax tools employed by governments. Social scientists fail to advocate remedies to those crises because they allow symptoms to distract them from causes. The author sets out the framework for policy initiatives that would empower everyone to meet their personal needs while fulfilling their obligations to society.