Abstract: Concern about rising economic inequality arises because of its implications for today’s society and of what it implies about where we are headed in the future. Are inequalities within countries going to continue to widen? This lecture asks what can be learned from historical experience and from economic models of the generation of inequality. It explores the long-run development of inequality of income and wealth in the US and in Europe. When have we succeeded in reducing inequality? It argues that we need to go beyond first year economics in order to understand the forces influencing wages and capital incomes, and that the subject of inequality should be re-integrated into the mainstream of economics.Sir Tony Atkinson, currently at Nuffield College, Oxford, works predominantly on the economics of income distribution, poverty and security, micro-economics, and public economics. His research has led to an inequality measure named after him -- the Atkinson index. Prior to Nuffield, Atkinson held positions at the University of Cambridge, University College London, the London School of Economics, and the University of Essex. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Econometric Society, Honorary Member of the American Economic Association, and Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.