Capital and Income Inequality: Some Facts and Some Puzzles (Update of WP 12/28 published in October 2012)
Using a broad number of indicators from an updated data set on human capital inequality for 146 countries from 1950 to 2010, this paper documents several facts regarding the evolution of income and human capital inequality. The main findings reveal that, in spite of a large reduction in human capital inequality around the world driven by a decline in the number of illiterates of several hundreds of millions of people, the inequality in the distribution of income has hardly changed. In many regions, the income Gini coefficient in 1960 was very similar to that in 2005. Therefore, improvements in literacy are not a sufficient condition to reduce income inequality, even though they improve life standards of people at the bottom of the income distribution. Increasing returns to education, external effects on wages of higher literacy rates or the simultaneous concurrence of other exogenous forces (e.g., globalization or skill-biased technological progress) may explain the lack of correlation between the evolution of income andeducation inequality.
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