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The Changing Shape of Global Inequality - exploring a new dataset

  • Jan Luiten van Zanden

    ()

    (Utrecht University)

  • Joerg Baten
  • Peter Foldvari
  • Bas van Leeuwen

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.

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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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Paper provided by Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History in its series Working Papers with number 0001.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucg:wpaper:0001
Contact details of provider: Postal: University of Utrecht, Drift 10, The Netherlands
Web page: http://www.cgeh.nl

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  1. Alvaredo, Facundo & Saez, Emmanuel, 2009. "Income and Wealth Concentration in Spain from a Historical and Fiscal Perspective," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt4017h9q3, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
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  4. Angus Deaton, 2001. "Relative Deprivation, Inequality, and Mortality," NBER Working Papers 8099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Joseph Francois & Hugo Rojas-Romagosa, 2007. "The Construction and Interpretation of Combined Cross-Section and Time-Series Inequality Datasets," IIDE Discussion Papers 20070805, Institue for International and Development Economics.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Luis Bertola & Cecilia Castelnovo & Javier Rodriguez & Henry Willebald, 2008. "Income distribution in the Latin American Southern Cone during the first globalization boom, ca: 1870-1920," Working Papers in Economic History wp08-05, Universidad Carlos III, Instituto Figuerola de Historia y Ciencias Sociales.
  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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