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Global trends in relative and absolute income inequality


  • Thomas Goda


This paper provides an overview of historic worldwide trends in relative and absolute income inequality. Depending on the concept used, inequality trends differ considerably. Inequality between countries increased strongly during 1820-2000 and started decreasing at the beginning of the twenty-first century, whether measured in relative or absolute terms. Within-country inequality, on the contrary, grew especially strongly during the last decades: Its growth rate accelerated after 1950 in absolute terms and after 1975 in relative terms. Absolute global inequality also increased substantially in the post-1950 period, whereas relative global inequality decreased slightly during this period.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Goda, 2016. "Global trends in relative and absolute income inequality," Revista Ecos de Economía, Universidad EAFIT, vol. 20(42), pages 46-69, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000442:014942

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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas Goda & Santiago Sanchez, 2018. "Market and Disposable Top Income Shares adjusted by National Accounts Data," Journal of Income Distribution, Ad libros publications inc., vol. 26(2), pages 1-22, July.
    2. Bilin Neyapti, 2018. "Income distribution and economic crises," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(3), pages 273-296, December.
    3. Murat A. Yülek & Gilberto Santos, 2022. "Why Income Gaps Persist: Productivity Gaps, (No-)Catch-up and Industrial Policies in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 56(1), pages 158-183, January.
    4. Crelis F. Rammelt & Joyeeta Gupta & Diana Liverman & Joeri Scholtens & Daniel Ciobanu & Jesse F. Abrams & Xuemei Bai & Lauren Gifford & Christopher Gordon & Margot Hurlbert & Cristina Y. A. Inoue & Li, 2023. "Impacts of meeting minimum access on critical earth systems amidst the Great Inequality," Nature Sustainability, Nature, vol. 6(2), pages 212-221, February.
    5. Williams, Andy E, 2020. "General Collective Intelligence as the Emerging Paradigm in Human-Centric Design for Sustainability," AfricArxiv c4xgs, Center for Open Science.
    6. Thomas Goda, 2017. "A comparative review of the role of income inequality in economic crisis theories and its contribution to the financial crisis of 2007-2009," Revista Finanzas y Politica Economica, Universidad Católica de Colombia, vol. 9(1), pages 151-174, February.

    More about this item


    Global income inequality; relative inequality; absolute inequality; personal income distribution;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy


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