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The global significance of national inequality decline

Simson, Rebecca and Savage, Mike ORCID: 0000-0003-4563-9564 (2020) The global significance of national inequality decline. Third World Quarterly, 41 (1). 20 - 41. ISSN 0143-6597

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Identification Number: 10.1080/01436597.2019.1662287


Since the 1980s, inequality has been rising in Europe, North America and parts of Asia. How does our understanding of global inequality dynamics change if coverage is extended to the rest of the developing world? To rebalance the perspective on global inequality trends, this paper surveys data and literature on recent inequality trends in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It finds that in these regions there are more countries with falling than rising inequality over the past 20 years, as measured by Ginis of income or consumption inequality. At the global level, therefore, there are signs of inequality convergence, as inequality has been falling in countries with high inequality in the 1990s (particularly Latin America), and rising in historically low-inequality countries. We discuss the political and economic drivers of inequality decline in countries with a steady fall in the Gini. This suggests some common trends across the globe, including the role of democratisation, the rise of new social movements, and the expansion of education and social safety nets and favourable commodity prices, in reducing income disparities. This paper calls for more country-level comparisons of inequality trends, to highlight the multiplicity of paths in this latest phase of globalisation.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019 Global South ltd
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2020 16:30
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2024 02:09

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