The surprising finding of this book is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, global income inequality is decreasing. Critics of globalization and others maintain that the spread of consumer capitalism is dramatically polarizing the worldwide distribution of income. But as the demographer Glenn Firebaugh carefully shows, income inequality for the world peaked in the late twentieth century and is now heading downward because of declining income inequality across nations. Furthermore, as income inequality declines across nations, it is rising within nations (though not as rapidly as it is declining across nations). Firebaugh claims that this historic transition represents a new geography of global income inequality in the twenty-first century.
This book documents the new geography, describes its causes, and explains why other analysts have missed one of the defining features of our era—a transition in inequality that is reducing the importance of where a person is born in determining his or her future well-being.
If you want to understand how global income equality has evolved in recent decades and why, look no further. Glenn Firebaugh has provided the most complete, thoughtful, and intriguing study on the subject, The New Geography of Global Income Inequality… This is an outstanding book, showcasing what sociology can offer by enhancing our empirical knowledge of the world… Firebaugh’s argument is articulate, forceful, and well-presented. All who are concerned with issues of income inequality, scholars and laypersons alike, will find much to learn from this book, as will students seeking to master the art of conducting empirical social science. For these reasons, I highly recommend Firebaugh’s latest contribution.
Glenn Firebaugh has produced a book of remarkable clarity and depth on a subject of enormous complexity and importance. His findings are groundbreaking and backed up by concurrent research in economics: The recent era of globalization has witnessed less rather than more income inequality between nations.
Firebaugh punctures the widely held myth that the world’s income inequality is increasing, convincingly contending that because of the decline of between-nation inequality, global inequality is falling… While Robert Barro, Branko Milanovic, Francois Bourguignon, Christian Morrison, and Firebaugh himself have presented some of these findings in articles, no scholar matches Firebaugh in bringing these major findings together in a monograph that is clearly written, well-organized, and methodologically sound.
This work is likely to become a classic in the study of inequality. It is particularly important because in assuring the reader that the research is grounded in sound methodological scholarship, Firebaugh does not lose sight of the importance of the questions he is addressing. His book is a powerful stimulus for further research in this and related fields; future research will have to address Firebaugh’s argument before making any additional claims about the state of world income inequality.
- 272 pages
- 0-11/16 x 5-3/4 x 8-15/16 inches
- Harvard University Press
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