The New Geography of Global Income Inequality

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Harvard University Press, 2009 - Business & Economics - 272 pages
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The surprising finding of this book is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, global income inequality is decreasing. Critics of globalization and others maintain that the spread of consumer capitalism is dramatically polarizing the worldwide distribution of income. But as the demographer Glenn Firebaugh carefully shows, income inequality for the world peaked in the late twentieth century and is now heading downward because of declining income inequality across nations. Furthermore, as income inequality declines across nations, it is rising within nations (though not as rapidly as it is declining across nations). Firebaugh claims that this historic transition represents a new geography of global income inequality in the twenty-first century.

This book documents the new geography, describes its causes, and explains why other analysts have missed one of the defining features of our era--a transition in inequality that is reducing the importance of where a person is born in determining his or her future well-being.

 

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Contents

Massive Global Income Inequality When Did It Arise and Why Does It Matter?
3
Other Welfare Changes
5
The Rise in Income Disparities over the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
6
Why Nations?
10
Why Not Focus on Poverty Rather than on Inequality?
12
The Reversal of Historical Inequality Trends
15
Myths of the Trade Protest Model
16
An Overview
22
Trends with and without Adjustment for Purchasing Power Parity
124
Trends in Weighted versus Unweighted Income Inequality
125
To Weight or Not to Weight?
126
Why the Weighted and Unweighted Trends Differ
129
Trends Based on Fixed Population Shares
133
Trends Based on Overweighting of Poor Nations
136
What Affects Findings
138
Continental Divides Asia Africa and the Reversal of the Trend
141

The Inequality Transition
23
Measurement
31
How Is National Income Measured and Can We Trust the Data?
33
How Is National Income Measured?
34
Are Income Estimates Plausible?
39
Are the Historical Income Data Reliable Enough?
49
Are the Contemporary Income Data Reliable Enough?
52
Measuring Income over Time
57
Adjusting for Household Economies in Poor Nations
63
Inequality What It Is and How It Is Measured
70
Defining Inequality
71
Income Ratios and Income Inequality
73
Criteria for Inequality Indexes
79
Summary of Inequality Measurement
80
Five Inequality Indexes
81
Evidence
85
What We Already Know
87
Most of the Worlds Total Income Inequality Is between Nations
88
A Note on the Traditional Literature on Income Inequality
92
Income Inequality across Nations in the Late Twentieth Century
99
The Trend in BetweenNation Income Inequality since 1960
101
Is the Decline Real?
103
Interval Estimates
108
Other BetweenNation Inequalities
118
Where Analyses Go Wrong
120
Weighted versus Unweighted Inequality Key to the Divergence Debate
123
Regional Growth Rates during Western Industrialization
142
Regional Growth Rates since 1960
146
Asian Turnaround and the Reversal of the Trend
149
The Trend in BetweenNation Income Inequality
151
Change in Income Inequality within Nations
152
Historical Trends in Income Inequality Revisited
153
Data and Methods
155
Change in WithinNation Income Inequality by Region
159
Change in WithinNation Income Inequality for the Entire World
162
Explanations and Predictions
167
Causes of the Inequality Transition
169
Overview
185
Spreading Industrialization
187
Rise of the Service Sector
192
Convergence of National Institutions
193
Technology That Reduces the Effect of Labor Immobility
196
World SystemDependency Theory
201
The Future of Global Income Inequality
204
The Demographic Windfall Hypothesis
207
Has Global Income Inequality Peaked?
212
Does Rising Income Bring Greater Happiness?
219
Are People Happier Now?
221
Notes
227
References
237
Index
251
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About the author (2009)

Glenn Firebaugh is Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology, Pennsylvania State University.

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