There has been a remarkable upsurge of debate about increasing inequalities and their societal implications, reinforced by the economic crisis but bubbling to the surface before it. This has been seen in popular discourse, media coverage, political debate, and research in the social sciences. The central questions addressed by this book, and the major research project GINI on which it is based, are: - Have inequalities in income, wealth and education increased over the past 30 years or so across the rich countries, and if so why? - What are the social, cultural and political impacts of increasing inequalities in income, wealth and education? - What are the implications for policy and for the future development of welfare states? In seeking to answer these questions, this book adopts an interdisciplinary approach that draws on economics, sociology, and political science, and applies this approach to learning from the experiences over the last three decades of European countries together with the USA, Japan, Canada, Australia, and South Korea. It combines comparative research with lessons from specific country experiences, and highlights the challenges in seeking to adequately assess the factors underpinning increasing inequalities and to identify the channels through which these may impact on key social and political outcomes, as well as the importance of framing inequality trends and impacts in the institutional and policy context of the country in question.