Book of the Month – March 2021

What We Owe Each Other by Minouche Shafik

Our March choice is What We Owe Each Other by Minouche Shafik

"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.

The social contract shapes everything: our political institutions, legal systems and material conditions, but also the organisation of family and community, our well-being, relationships and life prospects. And yet everywhere, the social contract is failing. 

Accelerating changes in technology, demography and climate will reshape our world in ways many of us have yet to grasp. In this landmark study, Minouche Shafik, Director of the London School of Economics, draws on evidence from across the globe to identify the key principles every society must adopt if it is to meet the challenges of the coming century, with profound implications for gender equality, education, healthcare provision, the role of business and the future of work. 

How should society pool risks, share resources and balance individual with collective responsibility? Brilliantly lucid and accessible, What We Owe Each Other offers new answers to these age-old questions and equips every reader to understand and play their part in the urgent and necessary transformation ahead.


BOOK OF THE MONTH LIVE Q&A with Minouche Shafik talking to Matina Stevis-Gridneff will take place on Tuesday 9 March 2021, 7pm

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Read it? Loved it? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #HayBookoftheMonth.

Buy the book

Alternatively, please buy the book from your local bookshop or borrow it from your local library. Please check opening times and availability in advance.

Further reading

Redesigning society after Covid-19 - FT 

We need to rewrite the social contract to meet new demands - Irish Examiner

About the author

Nemat (Minouche) Shafik is the Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Born in Egypt, she emigrated as a child to the USA, later moving to the UK for post-graduate studies in economics. At 36, she became the youngest ever Vice President of the World Bank and has since held positions as Permanent Secretary of the UK's Department for International Development, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and as Deputy Governor of the Bank of England. In these roles she 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. Following her appointment as Director of the LSE in 2017, she launched a programme of research, 'Beveridge 2.0', to rethink the welfare state for the 21st century. She was made a Dame in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in 2015 and in 2020 was appointed a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords.

About Hay Festival's Book of the Month

Hay Festival's Book of the Month is our monthly recommendation of a title we love and think holds particular resonance today. This is our chance to celebrate great works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry – new and old.

Throughout the month, we'll share interesting links and articles relating to our selection on social media using #HayBookoftheMonth and invite you all to get involved with your questions and comments.

Each month we'll have a free digital event with the author for you to ask them questions and explore their ideas further.

If you'd like to recommend a book for consideration, please share on social media using #HayBookOfTheMonth.

Happy reading!