World changes in inequality: An overview of facts, causes, consequences, and policies

François Bourguignon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article reviews various issues linked to the rise in inequality observed in a number of countries, particularly developed countries, over the past quarter century. Various sources of evidence regarding the time profile of inequality are examined and do not always fit the common view that inequality is trending upward everywhere. Overall, changes in inequality appear to be very country-specific. The same conclusion does obtain when examining the causes of these changes. There is little doubt that there are common forces affecting the distribution of income in most countries, but idiosyncratic factors have enhanced their effects in some cases and offset them in others. Country specificity also holds with regard to policies aimed at correcting inequality, even though globalization imposes constraints on some key redistribution instruments like taxation and the regulation of financial markets. International coordination and, in particular, more transparency in cross-border financial operations are needed for governments to recover some autonomy in these matters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-370
Number of pages26
JournalCESifo Economic Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Globalization
  • Inequality
  • Labor-share
  • Redistribution
  • Taxation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


Dive into the research topics of 'World changes in inequality: An overview of facts, causes, consequences, and policies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this