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The Changing Shape of Global Inequality - exploring a new dataset

Author

Listed:
  • Jan Luiten van Zanden

    () (Utrecht University)

  • Joerg Baten
  • Peter Foldvari
  • Bas van Leeuwen

Abstract

A new dataset for estimating the development of global inequality between 1820 and 2000 is presented, based on a large variety of sources and methods for estimating (gross household) income inequality. On this basis, and two sets of benchmarks for estimating between-country inequality (the Maddison 1990 benchmark and the recent 2005 ICP round), we estimate the evolution of global income inequality and of the number of people below various poverty lines over the past two centuries. We find that between 1820 and 1950 increasing per capita income is combined with increasing global inequality, and with an increase in the absolute number of people below the poverty line. After 1950 global inequality as measured by the Gini coefficient remains more or less constant, and also the number of poor starts to decline in absolute terms. It also appears that the global income distribution was uni-modal in the 19th century, became increasingly bi-modal between 1910 and 1970 with two world wars, a depression and de-globalization, and was suddenly transformed back into a uni-modal distribution between 1980 and 2000.

Suggested Citation

  • Jan Luiten van Zanden & Joerg Baten & Peter Foldvari & Bas van Leeuwen, 2011. "The Changing Shape of Global Inequality - exploring a new dataset," Working Papers 0001, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucg:wpaper:0001
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    File URL: http://www.cgeh.nl/sites/default/files/WorkingPapers/CGEH.WP_.No1_.Vanzandenetal.jan2011_0.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Angus Deaton, 2001. "Relative Deprivation, Inequality, and Mortality," NBER Working Papers 8099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Bas van Leeuwen & Peter Foldvari, 2012. "The development of inequality and poverty in Indonesia, 1932-1999," Working Papers 0026, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
    3. Francois, Joseph & Rojas-Romagosa, Hugo, 2005. "The Construction and Interpretation of Combined Cross-Section and Time-Series Inequality Datasets," CEPR Discussion Papers 5214, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Prados De La Escosura, Leandro, 2008. "Inequality, poverty and the Kuznets curve in Spain, 1850–2000," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(03), pages 287-324, December.
    5. Allen, Robert C., 2001. "The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 411-447, October.
    6. Facundo Alvaredo & Emmanuel Saez, 2009. "Income and Wealth Concentration in Spain from a Historical and Fiscal Perspective," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(5), pages 1140-1167, September.
    7. Dowrick, Steve & Quiggin, John, 1994. "International Comparisons of Living Standards and Tastes: A Revealed-Preference Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 332-341, March.
    8. Rodríguez, Javier & Willebald Remedios, Henry Francisco & Bértola, Luis & Castelnovo, Cecilia, 2008. "Income distribution in the Latin American Southern Cone during the first globalization boom, ca: 1870-1920," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp08-05, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
    9. Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1903-1940, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kourtellos, Andros & Stylianou, Ioanna & Tan, Chih Ming, 2013. "Failure to launch? The role of land inequality in transition delays," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 98-113.
    2. Rodríguez Weber, Javier, 2015. "Estimación de desigualdad de ingreso y otras variables relacionadas para Chile entre 1860 y 1970. Metodología y resultados obtenidos
      [Income inequality estimates for Chile between 1860 and 1970. Me
      ," MPRA Paper 68400, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Duarte Leite & Óscar Afonso & Sandra Silva, 2014. "A tale of two countries: a directed technical change approach," FEP Working Papers 539, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    4. Baten, Joerg & Mumme, Christina, 2013. "Does inequality lead to civil wars? A global long-term study using anthropometric indicators (1816–1999)," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 56-79.
    5. Van Leeuwen, Bas & van Leeuwen-Li, Jieli & Foldvari, Peter, 2012. "Education as a driver of income inequality in twentieth-century Africa," MPRA Paper 43574, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Thomas Goda, 2013. "Changes in income inequality from a global perspective: An overview," Working Papers PKWP1303, Post Keynesian Economics Study Group (PKSG).

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