Global Income Inequality by the Numbers: in History and Now


The paper presents an overview of calculations of global inequality, recently and over the long-run as well as main controversies and political and philosophical implications of the findings. It focuses in particular on the winners and losers of the most recent episode of globalization, from 1988 to 2008. It suggests that the period might have witnessed the first decline in global inequality between world citizens since the Industrial Revolution. The decline however can be sustained only if countries’ mean incomes continue to converge (as they have been doing during the past ten years) and if internal (within country) inequalities, which are already high, are kept in check. Mean-income convergence would also reduce the huge “citizenship premium” that is enjoyed today by the citizens of rich countries.

This article was based on the World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 6259 (appended).


Milanovic, B. Global Income Inequality in Numbers: in History and Now. Global Policy (2012) 4 (2) 198-208. [DOI: 10.1111/1758-5899.12032]

Published 1 January 2012