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Extreme Inequality: Evidence From Brazil, India, the Middle-East, and South Africa

Abstract : This paper presents new findings about inequality dynamics in Brazil, India, the Middle East and South Africa from the World Wealth and Income Database ( We combine tax data, household surveys and national accounts in a systematic manner to produce estimates of the distribution of income, using concepts coherent with macroeconomic national accounts. We document an extreme level of inequality in these regions, with top 10% income shares above 50% of national income. These societies are characterized by a dual social structure, with an extremely rich group at the top, whose income levels are broadly comparable to their counterparts in high-income countries, and a much poorer mass of the population below top groups. We discuss the diversity of regional contexts and highlight two explanations for the levels observed: the historical legacy of social segregation and modern economic institutions and policies.
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Submitted on : Friday, June 5, 2020 - 3:39:45 PM
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Lydia Assouad, Lucas Chancel, Marc Morgan. Extreme Inequality: Evidence From Brazil, India, the Middle-East, and South Africa. 2018. ⟨halshs-02798136⟩



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