Inequality in the Developing World

Image: Mikolaj on Unsplash.

A book Inequality in the Developing World, edited by Murray Leibbrandt with Carlos Gradin and Finn Tarp from UNU-WIDER, was published on 24 March 2021 by Oxford University Press. The book is available on full open access here.

The book contains assessments of the measurement and analysis of global inequality by leading inequality scholars, aligning these to comprehensive reviews of inequality trends in five of the world’s largest developing countries — Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa. The volume offers a vigorous stock take without recourse to an overly simplistic discourse about inequality, whether at the country or at the global level. Through careful evaluation of how successful developing countries have been in tackling their distributive tensions, with their moments of progress and regress, particularly in times of deep economic adjustments and shocks, the volume distils lessons for reducing inequality. Some common themes are explored in each country context. These include how broader societal inequalities arising outside of the labour market have intersected with the rapidly changing labour market milieus of the last few decades, the high concentration of income among the most affluent people, gender inequalities and social mobility. Substantive tax and social benefit policies that each country implemented to mitigate these inequality dynamics are assessed in detail.

The country chapters drew on a set of papers from each country that were produced as part of the large international project Inequality in the Giants, led by UNU-WIDER in partnership with a number of international inequality scholars including Murray Leibbrandt.

Five input papers were produced by SALDRU researchers on South Africa:

  • Drivers of inequality in South Africa (WIDER Working Paper 2018/162) by Janina Hundenborn, Murray Leibbrandt and Ingrid Woolard.
  • The evolution and determination of earnings inequality in post-apartheid South Africa (WIDER Working Paper 2018/83) by Arden Finn and Murray Leibbrandt.
  • The effect of top incomes on inequality in South Africa (WIDER Working Paper 2018/90) by Janina Hundenborn, Ingrid Woolard and Jon Jellema.
  • Revisiting the impact of direct taxes and transfers on poverty and inequality in South Africa (WIDER Working Paper 2018/79) by Mashekwa Maboshe and Ingrid Woolard.
  • Taking stock of South African income inequality (WIDER Working Paper 2018/184) by Murray Leibbrandt, Vimal Ranchhod and Pippa Green.