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Who Got What, Then And Now? A Fifty Year Overview From The Global Consumption And Income Project

Author

Listed:
  • Arjun Jayadev

    () (University of Massachusetts, Boston)

  • Rahul Lahoti

    () (University of Goettingen)

  • Sanjay G. Reddy

    () (Department of Economics, New School for Social Research)

Abstract

Using newly comprehensive data and tools from the Global Consumption and Income Project or CGIP, covering most of the world and five decades, we present a portrait of the changing global distribution of consumption and income and discuss its implications for our understanding of inequality, poverty, inclusivity of growth and development, world economic welfare, and the emergence of a global ‘middle class’. We show how regional distributions of income and consumption have evolved very differently over time. We also undertake sensitivity analysis to quantify the impact of various choices made in database construction and analysis. We find that levels of consumption and income have increased across the distribution, that the global distribution has become more relatively equal due to falling inter-country relative inequality, and that by some measures global poverty has declined greatly but by others it has hardly declined at all, even over the fifty years. The global middle class has grown markedly in certain countries but only slightly worldwide. Most of the marked changes have occurred after 1990. China’s rapid economic growth is by far the most important factor underlying almost all of them, notwithstanding sharply increasing inequalities within the country. Most improvements outside of China are associated with rapid developing country growth after 2000, and are of unknown durability. Country-experiences vary widely; there is for instance some evidence of ‘inequality convergence’ with previously more equal countries becoming less equal over time and the obverse. We provide support for previous findings (e.g. the replacement of the global ‘twin peaks’ by a unimodal distribution) but also arrive at some conclusions that overthrow old ‘stylized facts’ (e.g. that the Sub-Saharan African countries, and not Latin American ones, have the highest levels of inequality in the world, when measured using standardized surveys). The GCIP provides a resource for ongoing analysis, and forecasting, of developments in the world distribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Arjun Jayadev & Rahul Lahoti & Sanjay G. Reddy, 2015. "Who Got What, Then And Now? A Fifty Year Overview From The Global Consumption And Income Project," Working Papers 1510, New School for Social Research, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:new:wpaper:1510
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lahoti Rahul & Jayadev Arjun & Reddy Sanjay, 2016. "The Global Consumption and Income Project (GCIP): An Overview," Journal of Globalization and Development, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 61-108, June.
    2. Rahul Lahoti & Arjun Jayadev & Sanjay G. Reddy, 2015. "The Global Consumption and Income Project (GCIP): An Introduction and Preliminary Findings," Working Papers 140, United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs.
    3. Quah, Danny T, 1996. "Twin Peaks: Growth and Convergence in Models of Distribution Dynamics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(437), pages 1045-1055, July.
    4. Ravallion, Martin, 2003. "Inequality convergence," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 351-356, September.
    5. Danny Quah, 1996. "Twin Peaks: Growth and Convergence in Models of Distribution Dynamics," CEP Discussion Papers dp0280, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1983. "Ranking Income Distributions," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(197), pages 3-17, February.
    7. Quah, Danny, 1996. "Twin peaks : growth and convergence in models of distribution dynamics," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2278, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    8. Milanovic, Branko, 2012. "Global income inequality by the numbers : in history and now --an overview--," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6259, The World Bank.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Stephan Klasen & Tatyana Krivobokova & Friederike Greb & Rahul Lahoti & Syamsul Hidayat Pasaribu & Manuel Wiesenfarth, 2016. "International income poverty measurement: which way now?," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 14(2), pages 199-225, June.
    2. Stephan Klasen & Nathalie Scholl & Rahul Lahoti & Sophie Ochmann & Sebastian Vollmer, 2016. "Inequality – Worldwide Trends and Current Debates," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 209, Courant Research Centre PEG.
    3. Nora Lustig, 2018. "Measuring the Distribution of Household Income, Consumption and Wealth: State of Play and Measurement Challenges," Working Papers 1801, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    4. Lahoti Rahul & Jayadev Arjun & Reddy Sanjay, 2016. "The Global Consumption and Income Project (GCIP): An Overview," Journal of Globalization and Development, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 61-108, June.
    5. Rahul Lahoti & Arjun Jayadev & Sanjay G. Reddy, 2016. "The Global Consumption and Income Project (GCIP): An Overview," LIS Working papers 655, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    6. Arjun Jayadev & Rahul Lahoti & Sanjay G. Reddy, 2015. "The Middle Muddle: Conceptualizing and Measuring the Global Middle Class," Working Papers 2015_06, University of Massachusetts Boston, Economics Department.
    7. Klasen, Stephan, 2016. "What to do about rising inequality in developing countries?," PEGNet Policy Briefs 5/2016, PEGNet - Poverty Reduction, Equity and Growth Network, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • P50 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - General

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