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Where in the world are you? Assessing the importance of circumstance and effort in a world of different mean country incomes and (almost) no migration

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  • Milanovic, Branko

Abstract

Suppose that all people in the world are allocated only two characteristics: country where they live and social class within that country. Assume further that there is no migration. We show that 90 percent of variability in people’s global income position (percentile in world income distribution) is explained by only these two pieces of information. Mean country income (circumstance) explains 60 percent, and social class (both circumstance and effort) 30 percent of global income position. But as at least 1/3 of the latter number is due to circumstance as well, the overall part of circumstance is unlikely to be under 70 percent. On average, “drawing” one-notch higher social class (on a twenty-class scale) is equivalent to living in a twelve-percent richer country. Once people are allocated their social class, it becomes important, not only whether the country they are allocated to is rich or poor, but whether it is egalitarian or not. This is particularly important for the people who “draw” low or high social classes; for the middle classes, income distribution is much less important than mean country income.

Suggested Citation

  • Milanovic, Branko, 2007. "Where in the world are you? Assessing the importance of circumstance and effort in a world of different mean country incomes and (almost) no migration," MPRA Paper 3420, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:3420
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    Cited by:

    1. Milanovic, Branko & Ersado, Lire, 2008. "Reform and Inequality during the Transition: An Analysis Using Panel Household Survey Data, 1990-2005," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4780, The World Bank.
    2. Jomo, K. & Popov, V., 2016. "Long-Term Trends in Income Distribution," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, vol. 31(3), pages 146-160.
    3. Michael Clemens & Claudio Montenegro & Lant Pritchett, 2008. "The Place Premium: Wage Differences for Identical Workers across the U.S. Border," Working Papers 148, Center for Global Development.
    4. Marek Pęczkowski & Barbara Liberda, 2011. "Does a change of occupation lead to higher earnings?," Statistics in Transition new series, Główny Urząd Statystyczny (Polska), vol. 12(1), pages 193-206, August.
    5. repec:kap:reveho:v:15:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11150-015-9321-x is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Milanovic, Branko, 2007. "An even higher global inequality than previously thought," MPRA Paper 6676, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Global inequality; income distribution; migration;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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