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Global inequality and the global inequality extraction ratio: the story of the past two centuries


  • Milanovic, Branko


Using social tables, the author makes an estimate of global inequality (inequality among world citizens) in the early 19th century. The analysis shows that the level and composition of global inequality have changed over the past two centuries. The level has increased, reaching a high plateau around the 1950s, and the main determinants of global inequality have become differences in mean country incomes rather than inequalities within nations. The inequality extraction ratio (the percentage of total inequality that was extracted by global elites) has remained surprisingly stable, at around 70 percent of the maximum global Gini, during the past 100 years.

Suggested Citation

  • Milanovic, Branko, 2009. "Global inequality and the global inequality extraction ratio: the story of the past two centuries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5044, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5044

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Branko Milanovic & Peter H. Lindert & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2011. "Pre‐Industrial Inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(551), pages 255-272, March.
    2. Milanovic, Branko, 2007. "An even higher global inequality than previously thought," MPRA Paper 6676, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Branko Milanovic, 2006. "An Estimate Of Average Income And Inequality In Byzantium Around Year 1000," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 52(3), pages 449-470, September.
    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. Maddison, Angus, 2007. "Contours of the World Economy 1-2030 AD: Essays in Macro-Economic History," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199227204.
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    Cited by:

    1. Guillaume Allègre & Xavier Timbeau, 2015. "La critique du Capital au XXI e siècle . À la recherche des fondements macroéconomiques des inégalités," Revue de l'OFCE, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 0(1), pages 31-55.
    2. Serrano, Joaquín & Benzaquén, Ivana, 2017. "La frontera de posibilidades de desigualdad en América Latina," El Trimestre Económico, Fondo de Cultura Económica, vol. 0(334), pages .427-461, abril-jun.
    3. Guillaume Allegre & Xavier Timbeau, 2015. "La critique du capital au XXIè sicècle," Post-Print hal-01140572, HAL.
    4. José Gabriel Palma, 2011. "Forum 2011," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 42(1), pages 87-153, January.

    More about this item


    Inequality; Poverty Impact Evaluation; Equity and Development; Services&Transfers to Poor; Access to Finance;

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