Branko Milanovic in Foreign Affairs:
We live in an age of inequality—or so we’re frequently told. Across the globe, but especially in the wealthy economies of the West, the gap between the rich and the rest has widened year after year and become a chasm, spreading anxiety, stoking resentment, and roiling politics. It is to blame for everything from the rise of former U.S. President Donald Trump and the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom to the “yellow vest” movement in France and the recent protests of retirees in China, which has one of the world’s highest rates of income inequality. Globalization, the argument goes, may have enriched certain elites, but it hurt many other people, ravaging one-time industrial heartlands and making people susceptible to populist politics.
There is much that is true about such narratives—if you look only at each country on its own. Zoom out beyond the level of the nation-state to the entire globe, and the picture looks different.