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Globalization and Inequality, Past and Present

  • Williamson, Jeffrey G

The late nineteenth and late twentieth centuries shared more than globalization and economic convergence. The trend toward globalization in both centuries was accompanied by changes in the distribution of income as inequality rose in rich countries and fell in poor ones. Between one-third and one-half of the rise in inequality since the 1970s in the United States and other member countries of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD been attributed to global economic forces, about the same as a century earlier. It appears that the inequality produced by global economic forces before World War I was responsible in part for the retreat from globalization after the war. What does this retreat imply for the future? Will the world economy once again retreat from globalization as the rich OECD countries come under political pressure to cushion the side effects of rising inequality. Copyright 1997 by Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal World Bank Research Observer.

Volume (Year): 12 (1997)
Issue (Month): 2 (August)
Pages: 117-35

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:12:y:1997:i:2:p:117-35
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  1. J. David Richardson, 1995. "Income Inequality and Trade: How to Think, What to Conclude," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 33-55, Summer.
  2. George J. Borjas, 1995. "The Economic Benefits from Immigration," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 3-22, Spring.
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  6. Gary Burtless, 1995. "International Trade and the Rise in Earnings Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(2), pages 800-816, June.
  7. Richard B. Freeman, 1995. "Are Your Wages Set in Beijing?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 15-32, Summer.
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  10. Greenwood, Michael J & McDowell, John M, 1986. "The Factor Market Consequences of U.S. Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(4), pages 1738-72, December.
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