Branko Milanović: Global Inequality. A New Approach for the Age of Globalization

From Alfonso Lizarzaburu

On January 2016 I had the opportunity to read the OXFAM report An Economy for the 1%. How privilege and power in the economy drive extreme inequality and how this can be stopped.  

The report “shows that the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population has fallen by a trillion dollars since 2010, a drop of 38 percent. This has occurred despite the global population increasing by around 400 million people during that period. Meanwhile, the wealth of the richest 62 has increased by more than half a trillion dollars to $1.76tr. The report also shows how women are disproportionately affected by inequality – of the current ‘62’, 53 are men and just nine are women”.

“Although world leaders have increasingly talked about the need to tackle inequality, and in September agreed a global goal to reduce it, the gap between the richest and the rest has widened dramatically in the past 12 months. Oxfam’s prediction, made ahead of last year’s Davos, that the 1% would soon own more than the rest of us, actually came true in 2015 – a year earlier than expected”.

Last week I received and read Branko Milanović’s last book Global Inequality. A New Approach for the Age of Globalization (April 2016).

Milanović is one of the world’s leading economists of inequality (Thomas Piketty) and in this book “continues his lifelong investigation into the past, present and future of inequality, within and between nations, and in the world as a whole” (Angus Deaton).

As underlined by Joseph Stiglitz, “continuing with his extraordinarily important work on the empirics of global inequality, Branko Milanović in this book expands on that work to lay the basis for a more theoretical understanding of the evolution of inequality. The current situation and its tendency have profound political implications.

Are we sitting down on a time bomb?

Milanović says in a nuanced way that “It is hard to imagine that a system with such high inequality could be politically stable. […] If the losers remain disorganized and subject to false consciousness, not much will change. If they do organize themselves and find political champions who could tap into their resentment and get their votes, then it might be possible for the rich countries to put into place policies that would set them on the downward path of the second Kuznets wave. How could this be achieved? (p. 217)

Given the dramatically importance of this subject, I decided to share with you this presentation of Branko Milanović’s work and more specifically of his last book.

Enjoy it very much!

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