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The analysis of inequality in the Bretton Woods institutions

Ferreira, Francisco H.G. (2022) The analysis of inequality in the Bretton Woods institutions. Global Perspectives, 3 (1). pp. 1043-1171. ISSN 2575-7350

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Identification Number: 10.1525/gp.2022.39981


This paper assesses the evolution of thinking, analysis, and discourse about inequality in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund since their inception in 1944, on the basis of bibliometric analysis, a reading of the literature, and personal experience. Whereas the Fund was largely unconcerned with economic inequality until the 2000s but has shown a rapidly growing interest since then, the Bank’s approach has been characterized by ebbs and flows, with five different phases being apparent. The degree of interest in inequality in the two institutions appears to be determined largely by the prevailing intellectual profile of the topic in academic research, particularly in economics, and by ideological shifts in major shareholder countries, propagated downward internally by senior management. Data availability, albeit partly endogenous, also plays a role. Looking ahead, Bank and Fund researchers continue to have an important role to play, despite a much more crowded field in inequality research. I suggest that this role involves holding firm to an emphasis on inequality “at the bottom” and highlight four themes that may deserve special attention.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author(s).
Divisions: International Inequalities Institute
Subjects: H Social Sciences
J Political Science
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2023 09:36
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 04:00

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