Poverty and income inequality

Stephen Cecchetti, Kim Schoenholtz, 27 March 2018

Despite recent technological advances, the costs for migrants to send money across borders to their families remain extremely expensive, with fees often surpassing 5%. This column explores the various factors shaping remittance prices and identifies two key avenues for cost reduction: consumer education and competition. In particular, expanding mobile technology is helping to displace banks and squeeze remittance costs.

Orsetta Causa, Mikkel Hermansen, 23 March 2018

Growing wealth inequality has become a key concern for economists, and tackling it requires a deep understanding of how tax and transfer systems affect the income distribution. Using OECD data, this column argues that taxes and transfers are less effective at reducing inequality today than they were in the mid-1990s. This drop in effectiveness has largely been driven by declining cash transfers, with a smaller, more heterogeneous role for personal income taxes.

Antonio de Lecea, 14 March 2018

Some in the West argue that the emerging countries have prospered from globalisation at the expense of low- and middle-income classes in advanced countries by abusing open trade. Others in the East counter that the problem is the unfair distribution in Western countries of the benefits derived from global integration. This column argues that Europe's stance on globalisation – a combination of enforcement of a level playing field at home and abroad and a welfare state that mitigates polarisation and empowers middle classes – is capable of overcoming these zero-sum stories by reconciling higher growth with a fairer distribution of income and opportunities and a multidimensional concept of sustainability and well-being.

Joan Rosés, Nikolaus Wolf, 14 March 2018

A recent literature has explored growing personal wealth inequality in countries around the world. This column explores the widening wealth gap between regions and across states in Europe. Using data going back to 1900, it shows that regional convergence ended around 1980 and the gap has been growing since then, with capital regions and declining industrial regions at the two extremes. This rise in regional inequality, combined with rising personal inequality, has played a significant role in the recent populist backlash.

Richard Samans, 06 March 2018

Recent political developments in many countries suggest that most of their citizens lack confidence in the assumption of the standard growth model that everyone in a society benefits from GDP growth. This column proposes a multidimensional 'Inclusive Development Index', based on a dashboard of indicators in growth and development, inclusion, and intergenerational equity and sustainability. GDP per capita growth is weakly correlated with performance in many of the new index’s indicators, including those pertaining to employment, income and wealth inequality, and carbon intensity.

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