On the Evolution of the World Income Distribution

28 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 1998

See all articles by Charles I. Jones

Charles I. Jones

Stanford Graduate School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: March 29, 1997

Abstract

The post-World War II period has seen substantial changes in the distribution of GDP per worker around the world. In the upper half of the distribution, a number of countries have exhibited large increases in income relative to the richest countries. In the bottom half, several countries have seen incomes fall relative to the richest countries. The net result of these changes is a movement in the shape of the world income distribution from something that looks like a normal distribution in 1960 to a bi-modal "twin-peaks" distribution in 1988. Projecting these changes into the future suggests a number of interesting findings. First, it seems likely that the U.S. will lose its position as the country with the highest level of GDP per worker. Second, growth miracles have been more common in recent decades than growth disasters. If these dynamics continue, the future income distribution will involve far more "rich" countries and far fewer "poor" countries than currently observed.

JEL Classification: E23, O47

Suggested Citation

Jones, Charles I., On the Evolution of the World Income Distribution (March 29, 1997). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=59412 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.59412

Charles I. Jones (Contact Author)

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

Stanford GSB
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650-725-9265 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.stanford.edu/~chadj

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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United States

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