Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 11 No. 3 (Summer 1997)


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On the Evolution of the World Income Distribution

Article Citation

Jones, Charles I. 1997. "On the Evolution of the World Income Distribution." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 11(3): 19-36.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.11.3.19


The post-World War I period has seen substantial changes in the world income distribution. As a result, the shape of the distribution has changed from something that looks like a normal distribution in 1960 to a bimodal 'twin peaks' distribution in 1988. Projecting these changes into the future suggests a number of interesting findings. First, it seems likely that the United States will lose its position as the country with the highest level of GDP per worker. Second, the future income distribution will involve far more 'rich' countries and far fewer 'poor' countries than currently observed.

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Jones, Charles I. (Stanford U)

JEL Classifications

D31: Personal Income, Wealth, and Their Distributions
N30: Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Religion: General, International, or Comparative
N10: Economic History: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Growth and Fluctuations: General, International, or Comparative


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