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  • Published: 4 March 2021
  • ISBN: 9781473576995
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 256

What We Owe Each Other

A New Social Contract

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


One of the world's most influential economists sets out the basis for a new social contract fit for the 21st century.

'Excellent... Shafik points us toward...a hopeful framework for social, economic and political renewal' Michael J. Sandel


What does society owe each of us? And what do we owe in return?
Our answer to these inescapable questions - known as the social contract - shapes our politics, economic systems and every stage of life, from raising children and going to school to finding work and growing old. Yet today, many believe that this contract is not working for them.

Economist Minouche Shafik examines societies across the world and demonstrates that the urgent challenges of technology, demography and climate require a major shift in priorities. This vision-changing book shows us the way to a new model that provides mutual security and opportunity - a social contract fit for the twenty-first century.


'Intelligent and lucid' Martin Wolf, Financial Times
'A powerful and persuasive moral argument...rigorous and specific enough to help readers think practically about the policies needed' Melinda Gates

'A necessary contribution at a turning-point in history... A must-read' Ursula von der Leyen


  • Published: 4 March 2021
  • ISBN: 9781473576995
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 256

About the author

Minouche Shafik

Nemat (Minouche) Shafik is Director of the LSE. In 2017 she launched a programme of research, 'Beveridge 2.0', to rethink the welfare state for the 21st century. As the youngest ever Vice President of the World Bank, Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Development, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and as Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, Minouche Shafik has worked on major policy upheavals across the globe – from the fall of the Berlin Wall, to the Arab Spring, to the financial crash in 2008 and the Eurozone crisis. She was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2015.

Praise for What We Owe Each Other

This erudite book argues that we need to recognise our obligations to each other and to society ... a thought-provoking addition to our current, urgent debates

Daron Acemoglu, co-author of Why Nations Fail

A thought-provoking, beautifully argued, and easily accessible book. It is a must-read for all those seeking to understand why the bonds that bind society together are so frayed and what we can do about it to create a world fit for our children and grandchildren to live in

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation

In this timely call for a new social contract, Minouche Shafik invites us to rethink what we owe one another as citizens, within and across generations. In the tradition of Beveridge, one of her predecessors as director of the LSE, Shafik points us toward a more generous social contract, one that shares risks and broadens opportunity. At a time when government seems broken, this excellent book offers a hopeful framework for social, economic, and political renewal

Michael J. Sandel, author of The Tyranny of Merit: Can We Find the Common Good?

Informed by her many journeys to all corners of the world, Minouche Shafik weaves economics, philosophy, wisdom and common sense into a social contract of simplicity, solidity and harmony. A must-read recipe for the improvement of our life together

Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank

Minouche Shafik's up-to-the-moment book presents a powerful and persuasive moral argument. She calls for a more generous, more equal world and offers an analysis that is rigorous and specific enough to help readers think practically about the policies needed to bring that world into being. For societies asking how to rebuild, What We Owe Each Other is an important place to start

Melinda Gates

A necessary contribution at a turning-point in history. Minouche Shafik maps out the great challenges of our time and inspires us to rise to them. Her book is a must-read for policymakers - as well as anyone interested in making the world a better place

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

Wonderfully illuminating of our interdependence

Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate in Economics

A persuasive diagnosis of the present social malaise [with] plenty of suggestions about what policymakers could do ... ranges widely ... impressive

Diane Coyle, Financial Times

What We Owe Each Other examines the role of the social contract and considers how changes in the global economy have undermined the function of the institutions societies rely on to keep the world a reasonably just place ... Shafik reckons that ... if the social contract breaks down, and people do not adequately look after each other, then crises (of finance, public health or the environment, for example) will threaten prosperity


A big argument, eloquently written ... eye-catching individual ideas ... entertaining tales ... courageously breaks from the orthodoxies of the pre-crash years


Shafik is an insider, turned radical ... In this intelligent and lucid book, she calls for a new social contract based on three principles: security for all; investment in capability; and efficient and fair sharing of risks

Martin Wolf, Financial Times

A very thoughtful book

Robert Peston, Daily Telegraph

Shafik is optimistic, her argument packed with useful, well-evidenced, orthodox policy prescriptions for a new social contract ... a compassionate analysis of the state of our world ... detailed policies to address the needs of children and the elderly, for the improvement of education and health systems, and to sustain the world of work

Ann Pettifor, Times Literary Supplement

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