SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Why is Inequality So Unequal Across the World?

Dr Gabriel Palma (Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge, UK)

Date: 23 February 2016Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 23 February 2016Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G3

Type of Event: Seminar

In this seminar I will present evidence to show that the large diversity of distributive outcomes across the world is almost entirely due to what happens at the top and bottom of the distribution of income. I will also discuss the alternative inequality measure which I have proposed as a result of the above phenomena, which Alex Cobham and Andy Sumner have coined the “Palma ratio” — a statistic that I find more appropriate to the understanding of current events than the (19th century) Gini coefficient. I will also analyse some of the forces shaping the huge diversity of distributional outcomes across the globe. In this, I will argue that the most crucial of all distributional stylised-facts is that “the share of the rich is what it’s all about” — as everything else now seems to follow from this. The logic of the “Palma Ratio” is precisely to emphasise this fact.

Dr José Gabriel Palma is a leading development economist at the Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge. He has written dozens of articles and (co-)authored several books. His research is mainly dedicated to theories of growth and development, global inequality and financial crises, often related to Latin America and East Asia. His contributions on debates around inequality have led to a new measure of inequality – the Palma index – being named after him. In the early 1970s, Dr Palma served in President Allende’s administration in Chile. In recent years he has lectured at various universities around the UK.

Organiser: Professor Alfredo Saad Filho or Dr Feyzi Ismail

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Contact Tel: 020 7898 4504 or 020 7898 4723