Economic income inequality. However, the waning decades of
Economic globalization boosts global inequality by boosting world productivity, thus enlarging the surplus that elites can appropriate. As societies become richer, there is more surplus for the elites to appropriate so that income inequality rises with economic growth. Another view is economic globalization boosts inequality, not by boosting world production, but by increasing the reach or leverage of elites. Another view, if globalization is boosting global income inequality, it is because globalization is increasing the incomes of the rich or the non-poor, not because globalization is reducing the incomes of the poor, as is sometimes claimed. (2)The best available historical evidence suggests that the 19th century and first half of the 20th century were periods of increasing inequality between nations, whereas in the second half of the twentieth century inequality declined.IncomeThe spatial nature of global income inequality is changing. After two centuries of growth, global inequality appears to have levelled off and then declined in recent decades. This reversal in the global trend has been caused by declining income inequality across nations, as large poor nations in Asia have experienced faster-than-world-average income growth. At the same time, income inequality within nations is now rising in many nations. This pattern of declining income inequality across nations and rising income inequality within nations (Goesling 2001) implies that nations are receding in importance as economic units, just as one might expect in a globalizing economy. Because the highly uneven income growth of the 19th and early 20th centuries was largely country-based, global income inequality increasingly became between-nation income inequality. However, the waning decades of the 20th century witnessed the emergenceof a new geography of global income inequality (Firebaugh 2003) where income inequality is rising within nations and shrinking across them. Education Perhaps the main education story of the past two centuries is the great expansion of mass education in nations worldwide. Two centuries ago, formal education was common only among the world’s elites. Today, more than 90% of the world’s children receive at least some amount of formal education, and more than 80% stay in school through the early secondary grades (UNESCO 2005). In many nations, it is common for people to spend up to 16 years or more (or roughly 20–25 per cent of their lifetimes) attending school. Inequality increased in the earlier period because the expansion of mass education began in the West. The United States was an early leader. By the end of the 19th century, large national education systems had been established in nations throughout the West, and primary school enrolment rates were in many areas greater than 50–60% (Benavot and Riddle 1988). Education levels continued to push upward in Western nations through the 20th century, with the expansion of both high school and college education. But the main story of the 20th century is not what happened in the West, but rather the expansion of mass education in other world regions, particularly in the post-World War II period. In the second half of the 20th century, school enrolments surged in nations worldwide, with the largest gains occurring in regions which had previously lagged behind, such as south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. As a result of this global expansion, the level of inequality in educational attainment between nations declined rapidly.HealthLife expectancy ranges from the high 70s or low 80s in nations in the West and East Asia to less than 50 in parts of sub-Saharan Africa. There are also large disparities in health among individuals within nations, especially between people with different racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. The diffusion of production technologies may influence global health inequality indirectly through its effects of global income inequality, but equally if not more important is the diffusion of medical knowledge and technology, health-promoting behaviours and public health improvements. In the early 19th century, differences in health between nations were smaller than they were later in the century, with life expectancy ranging from the low 20s in the least healthy nations, to the low 40s in the healthiest nations. But then a ‘mortality revolution’ swept through the West, due to rising living standards, public health improvements, and advancing medical knowledge and technology. Mortality rates plunged and life expectancy shot up. Since the early 19th century, life expectancy for the world as a whole has more than doubled, from roughly 30 years to nearly 70 years. But because the initial gains in life expectancy were concentrated primarily in the West, the level of inequality in health between nations ballooned.In the 20th century the ‘mortality revolution’ spread out from the West to other world regions, due in large measure to the diffusion of health-promoting ideas, technologies and practices. The largest gains in life expectancy in the second half of the 20th century were achieved by nations in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa, which had previously lagged behind. As a result, the trend of increasing inequality in health between nations stalled in the middle of the 20th century, and then reversed course. Between-nation health inequality fell sharply from 1950 to 2000. The long-term trend in health inequality between nations has thus followed an inverted-U shaped pattern, increasing through the 19th and early 20th centuries, and then declining steadily thereafter.