The Poor and the Plutocrats: From the poorest of the poor to the richest of the rich

ISBN : 9780198870142

Francis Teal
256 Pages
140 x 224 mm
Pub date
Mar 2021
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Why we are poor and others are so very rich, indeed, why they are so rich when we are still very poor. A decisive examination of inequality and its relationship to poverty and wealth, The Poor and the Plutocrats explores how we live in a world of very many poor people and a very few extremely rich ones - the poor and the plutocrats of the title. Globally the last twenty years have seen declines in inequality between countries and the fastest fall in the numbers of absolutely poor in history - those living on less than the World Bank extreme poverty line of US$1.90 per day. In parallel, inequality within some countries has increased markedly, particularly in the US and the UK. In The Poor and the Plutocrats, Francis Teal explains this pattern of falling absolute poverty and rising relative poverty (the decline of global inequality and the rise of inequality within countries) through the lens of how, over the last two centuries, the value of relatively unskilled labour has changed. To understand the co-existence of the poor and the plutocrats, Teal examines the patterns of growth in national income and how the 1% have captured, in some countries, an increasing share of that income. This book explains how we have come to live in a world of such high levels of income and such dissatisfaction with how that income is distributed.


1 From Billions to Hundreds of Dollars of Income
2 The Poor and the Rich in the UK in the 21st Century
3 Five Countries - the US, UK, Brazil, China, and India
4 The Rise (and Rise) of the World Economy
5 The Growing Equality Across Countries and Inequality in Some Countries
6 Inequality and Poverty Across the World
7 The Fall and Rise of the 1 Per Cent
8 The Incomes of the Plutocrats in a Comparative Perspective
9 Sources of Increasing Inequality: Earnings of the Relatively Unskilled
10 Sources of Income for the Plutocrats
11 From the Poor to the Plutocrats

About the author: 

Francis Teal has worked on labour market questions for both rich and poor countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. It is this background that informs the approach adopted in this book to understanding the sources of inequality; a global and pressing concern. He was a Deputy Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) at the University of Oxford from 1996 until his retirement in 2012. He is now a managing editor of Oxford Economic Papers and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of African Economies. Before joining the Centre in 1991 Francis Teal held positions in Tanzania at the Tanzania Investment Bank, in the UK at the National Institute of Economics and Social Research and the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London and in Australia at the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Australian National University.

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