No Matter Where You Live, the World is More Unequal Than You Realise, according to new research

February 5, 2019
Update on some interesting research by Franziska Mager and Christopher Hoy. It builds on a December post on the World Bank Development Impact blog, covering more countries  and expanding the discussion to people’s misperceptions about the level of national inequality as well as their misperceptions of their own positions. New research by the Australian National University conducted in collaboration with

Thomas Piketty on inequality in developing countries (great, but still not enough on politics)

May 31, 2016
I heard econ rock star Thomas Piketty speak for the first time last week – hugely enjoyable. The occasion was the annual conference of the LSE’s new International Inequalities Institute, with Piketty headlining. He was brilliant: original and funny, riffing off traditional France v Britain tensions, and reeling off memorable one liners: ‘meritocracy is a myth invented by winners’; ‘It’s

Book Review: Branko Milanovic’s brilliant take on Global Inequality

April 15, 2016
Some of my favourite development economists are nomads, people with feet in different regions, which seems to make them better able to identify interesting patterns and similarities/differences between countries. Ha-Joon Chang (Korea/UK), Dani Rodrik (Turkey/US) and now Branko Milanovic (Serbia/US), whose latest book Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization is a brilliant and thought-provoking essay stuffed

Who is the richest man in history? The answer (ICYMI) might surprise you

September 25, 2015
3rd in this series of re-posts of the most read FP2P pieces over the summer comes from Ricardo Fuentes, who has since gone off to be big boss at Oxfam Mexico. Here he introduces Oxfam Mexico’s new report on one of Mexico’s many claims to fame – the richest man in history. In his 2011 book, The Haves and The Have Nots, 

What do we know about the politics of reducing inequality? Not much – it’s time to find out

February 13, 2015
Spent a fun day at the Developmental Leadership Program annual conference in Birmingham yesterday. I was on a panel pitching an idea for a research programme that has got me very excited (along with David Hudson and Niheer Dasandi from University College London). Here’s my pitch. One of my formative influences as a policy wonk was watching the impact of

Let’s all eat cake: The terrible inefficiency of inequality

November 3, 2014
Alex Cobham, of the Center for Global Development (@alexcobham), welcomes Oxfam’s new inequality campaign, argues for making inequality a core part of the post-2015 framework, and comes over all French Revolution on wealth registers and cake (the eating of). International acceptance of stark economic inequalities reflects a grand political failure. A failure that locks in the wasting of human potential for

When is redistribution popular? When people first see social conflict rising, apparently. Useful new research.

May 30, 2014
This recent ODI paper by Laura Rodriguez Takeuchi made my head hurt (heavy on methodology, light on narrative, for my taste) but I think it’s worth persevering with. Analysing perception data for over 15,000 individuals in 40 countries, it arrives at two main findings: 1. Perceptions of social conflict have a strong influence on people’s demand for redistribution, even stronger

‘Working for the Few’: top new report on the links between politics and inequality

January 20, 2014
As the world’s self-appointed steering committee gathers in Davos, 2014 is already shaping up as a big year for inequality. The World Economic Forum’s ‘Outlook on the Global Agenda 2014’ ranks widening income disparities as the second greatest worldwide risk in the coming 12 to 18 months (Middle East and North Africa came top, since you ask). So it’s great

Inequality and the rise of the global 1%: great new paper by Branko Milanovic

December 13, 2012

Do poorer countries have less capacity for redistribution? A new paper

September 28, 2009
When can a country end poverty by redistributing wealth from its rich people, and when must it instead rely on aid or growth? That’s a question Martin Ravallion, head of the World Bank’s research department seeks to answer in a new paper. Essentially he is trying to put precise numbers on the relatively obvious point that the richer a country

Why equity matters more than growth: The Spirit Level

May 6, 2009
‘Growth with Equity’ is motherhood and apple pie in economic policy-making these days. But in a great new book, Spirit Level, authors Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett argue that ‘economic growth, for so long the great engine of progress, has, in the rich countries, largely finished its work.’ Above a certain average income (the authors put it at $25,000 per

Is The Economist going socialist?

February 4, 2009
The back half of The Economist (business, finance and economics) is having an excellent crisis. If you’re willing to filter out the gratuitous (and increasingly defensive) neoclassical riffs, there is some really excellent analysis in there and even some (perhaps inadvertent) progressive thinking. This week’s edition includes a three page briefing on the Asian economies and a handy summary of the