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Branco Milanovic on global inequality and the economic rise of Asia

posted onJanuary 25, 2018

One of the key questions Branko Milanovic tries to answer in his book Global Inequality, a new approach for the age of globalization, is how global inequality has changed over the past twenty-five years. The leading scholar on income inequality, stresses that we live in an age of globalization where issues cannot be seen exclusively from national and horizontal perspectives. He gives insights in global historical perspective and illustrates how the economic gains of globalisation have been distributed unequally. 

In this brilliant and thought-provoking book, Milanovic argues that the lower middle class of wealthy countries can be considered a loser of globalisation because they have seen little to no growth in real income during the previous quarter of a century. On the other hand, very populous countries such as China, India, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia have witnessed the rise of a middle class which has experienced significant growth in real income. Together, with global plutocrats – the richest people in the world – they can be seen as the winners of globalisation.

Therefore, in the future, world economic power will shift toward Asia. The catch-up of incomes in many Asian countries with the incomes in Western European and American countries will reduce global inequality. However, the gains of globalization will not be distributed evenly and inequality will not disappear.

The book received the Bruno Kreisky Prize for the best political book of 2016, and was included among 12 top books in business and economics published in 2016 by the Financial Times. Milanovic received (together with Mariana Mazzucato) the 2018 Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.

What others said about the book:

"Drawing on two centuries’ worth of household survey data, the book provides an important empirical picture of inequality patterns within and among nations… Milanovic’s marshaling and analysis of the data are an achievement in themselves.—Jeff Kehoe, Harvard Business Review 

“Hard-hitting… Global Inequality reveals that the main losers of the past three decades of globalization have been the western middle classes... In fact, Milanovic quite persuasively puts inequality worldwide at the heart of a wide range of ills, as threatening our economies and threatening our long-cherished democracies too" —David Dodwell, The South China Morning Post 

“Using clear prose and armed with tons of data, Milanovic presents a fascinating tale of the rise and wane of global inequality to identify very precisely the winners and losers of globalization within and across countries." —Pramit Bhattacharya, Mint 

A short biography of Branko Milanović

Branko Milanović is a Serbian-American economist. He was born in 1953. He did his Ph.D. at University of Belgrade in 1987 with the dissertation on economic inequality in Yugoslavia, using for the first time micro data from Yugoslav household surveys. During his 25-year career as an economist, his main area of research has been income distribution. He has published a large number of papers mainly on world inequality and poverty. He is the author of several books including Liberalization and Entrepreneurship. Dynamics of Reform in Socialism and Capitalism (1989), Worlds Apart: Measuring International and Global Inequality (2005), The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality (2010).