Globalization and Inequality

Richard B. Freeman

in The Oxford Handbook of Economic Inequality

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199606061
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Economics

Globalization and Inequality

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  • Economics
  • Labour and Demographic Economics
  • International Economics



This article focuses on the contentious relationship between globalization and inequality. Barring economic or social disaster, the forces of globalization — immigration, trade, education, the transfer of technology and business practices, and capital flows — should move the world towards a global labour market that will over the long run compress country differences in earnings and living standards, and thus reduce economic inequality. But the transition to a global labour market is likely to be long and bumpy. Western Europe and Japan needed 30–40 years post-World War II to reach rough parity with the USA; and it took Korea 50 or so years to rise from extreme poverty to the second rung of advanced economies. The large peasant populations in China, India, and in other developing countries make it harder for their labour markets to generate wages and salaries close to those of advanced countries, save for some particular groups. Continued growth of within-country inequality could generate a backlash against globalization in advanced democracies; and could produce political instability in developing countries, particularly those with non-democratic regimes.

Keywords: labour market; globalization; inequality; Europe; USA; Japan; India; China; Korea

Article.  10074 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Labour and Demographic Economics ; International Economics

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