Thursday, June 2, 2011

Big Bag of Inequality: Global, Environmental, and Ideological

Economix (HT: MR) brings us this fascinating graph. The people in each country are ordered left to right by income and from bottom to top based on their position in the global income distribution. We see that Brazil has enormous inequality: the poorest are as poor as anyone in the world and the richest are as rich as any American. In the US, however “the typical person in the bottom 5 percent of the American income distribution is still richer than 68 percent of the world’s inhabitants.” Meanwhile even the richest people in India are only about as well off as the poorest in the US.

In my food policy textbook, which Per and I just finished proofreading for the last time, we discuss how climate change is expected to be beneficial for colder climate areas and harmful for areas that are already warm. This exacerbates global inequality. A recent working paper by Richard Tol of ESRI argues that this was only the case since 1980. Prior to 1980, climate change had a positive net-impact in most countries.

Then there’s ideological inequality in the classroom: 
The distribution of academic talent was the same across “Republican” and “Democratic” classrooms, judging from SAT scores. But the Republicans gave grades of C-minus or worse 6.2% of the time, compared with 4% for Democrats. And Republicans awarded the gold star of A-plus 8% of the time, compared with only 3.5% for Democrats.”
Some more on ideology and economic knowledge (HT: Yglesias) and the kinds of questions asked by a Libertarian economics teacher of his intro course.

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