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Inequality: The long view

The rise in inequality, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world, has become an obsession of policy makers. In fact, it is less steep and probably less permanent than they imagine, and is overshadowed by a remarkable reduction in world inequality. By Paul Ormerod.

Increasing inequality-both global and domestic-has become a central concern of social scientists and politicians in the past 20 years, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world.

It is not difficult to see why. From the end of the second world war until the early 1980s, Britain and America enjoyed a long period of rapidly rising prosperity. This prosperity had been shared by all. The distribution of income was stable, with no marked trend either up or down. Then in the early 1980s there was a sharp change. Unemployment soared, reducing the incomes of the poor. As financial markets opened up and Wall…

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