The World Distribution of Income And Its Inequality, 1970–2009


  • Note: I wish to thank Claudio Mazziotta, Pasquale Tridico, and Shlomo Yitzhaki for their insightful comments. This paper has been written during a visiting period at the IMT Institute for Advanced Studies at Lucca (Italy), whose hospitality is gratefully acknowledged.


This paper provides a full decomposition of world inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, in the period 1970–2009. In particular, using the Analysis of Gini (ANOGI), the paper describes the evolution of between inequality, within inequality, and the impact of overlapping on both factors. While there is evidence that between inequality in the last decade significantly declined due to the rapid Chinese growth, within inequality and overlapping went in the opposite direction. Furthermore, with the exception of some Asian countries, the rest of the world has not moved significantly. As a result, world inequality remains high by any standard.