Globalization and Inequality, Past and Present

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"Globalization and Inequality, Past and Present," is an article by Jeffrey A. Williamson, published in 1997. The article compares the globalization trend of the late Nineteenth Century (1850's to 1914) to that of the late Twentieth Century (1950 to today), showing that both periods of economic integration led to increases in trade, emigration and immigration, and, in rich countries, wage inequality. Williamson argues that "rising inequality in rich countries induced by globalization [before World War I] was responsible, at least in part, for the interwar retreat from globalization" (Williamson 415). Between 1913 and 1950, trade and immigration flows decreased, and the rising inequality within rich countries was halted.

Although some empirical differences have been found between the globalization trends of the late Nineteenth Century and the late Twentieth Century (during the former, rising inequality within rich, migrant-receiving countries was counteracted by decreasing inequality in poor, migrant-sending countries; during the latter, trade and migration failed to produce a decline of inequality in many poor Latin American and East Asian countries), an increase in wage inequality within developed countries has accompanied both. Williamson ends by raising the question of whether the Twentieth Century's growth of inequality will soon lead to a retreat from globalization as it did in after World War I.


Williamson, Jeffrey A.. "Globalization and Inequality, Past and Present." International Political Economy. Ed. Jeffry A. Frieden and David A. Lake. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2000.