The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality

The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality

The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality

The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality

Synopsis

Who is the richest person in the world, ever? Does where you were born affect how much money you'll earn over a lifetime? How would we know? Why-beyond the idle curiosity-do these questions even matter? In ' The Haves and the Have-Nots', Branko Milanovic, one of the world's leading experts on wealth, poverty, and the gap that separates them, explains these and other mysteries of how wealth is unevenly spread throughout our world, now and through time. Milanovic uses history, literature and stories straight out of today's newspapers, to discuss one of the major divisions in our social lives: between the haves and the have-nots. He reveals just how rich Elizabeth Bennet's suitor Mr. Darcy really was; how much Anna Karenina gained by falling in love; how wealthy ancient Romans compare to today's super-rich; where in Kenyan income distribution was Obama's grandfather; how we should think about Marxism in a modern world; and how location where one is born determines his wealth. He goes beyond mere entertainment to explain why inequality matters, how it damages our economics prospects, and how it can threaten the foundations of the social order that we take for granted. Bold, engaging, and illuminating, 'The Haves and the Have-Nots' teaches us not only how to think about inequality, but why we should.

Excerpt

This book is about income and wealth inequality in history and today. Inequality appeared as soon as human society was born, because distinctions of power and wealth accompany all human societies. Inequality is by definition social, since it is a relational phenomenon (I can be unequal only if there is somebody else). Inequality can thus exist only when there is a society. a Robinson Crusoe cannot have a concept of equality, but Robinson Crusoe and his Man Friday do. Moreover, inequality makes even more sense when society is not a mechanical accumulation of individuals but a group of people who share certain characteristics such as common government, language, religion, or historical memories.

The objective of the stories around which this book is organized is to show, in an unusual and entertaining way, how inequality of income and wealth is present in many facets of our daily lives, in the stories we read or the discussions we have around our kitchen tables or in our schools or offices, and how inequality appears when we look at certain well-known phenomena from a different angle. the objective is to unveil the importance that differences in income and wealth, affluence and poverty, play in our ordinary lives as well as the importance that they have had historically.

The book is organized around three types of inequalities. in the first part, I deal with inequality among individuals within a . . .

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