Business Intelligence

The Changing Shape Of Global Inequality 1820-2000: Exploring A New Dataset

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Executive Summary

A new dataset for estimating the development of global inequality between 1820 and 2000 is presented, based on a large variety of sources and methods for estimating (gross household) income inequality. On this basis, and two sets of benchmarks for estimating between-country inequality (the Maddison 1990 benchmark and the recent 2005 ICP round), the authors estimate the evolution of global income inequality and of the number of people below various poverty lines over the past two centuries. They find that between 1820 and 1950 increasing per capita income is combined with increasing global inequality, and with an increase in the absolute number of people below the poverty line.

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