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

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9780465031412: The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality

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.

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Branko Milanovic, lead economist at the World Bank's research division in Washington, DC, and professor at University of Maryland, is author of Worlds Apart.

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*Starred Review* Milanovic defies the typical image of an economist by presenting research overlaid with humor, literary insights, and fully imagined portraits of daily life as he examines inequality across time and continents. He weighs the wealth divide between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice as well as Anna Karenina’s financial prospects had she married Vronsky. He ponders John Rawls, Alexis de Tocqueville, Karl Marx, Max Weber, and others to explore theories regarding the rich and the poor. Using complicated economic models that he explains very well, Milanovic breaks down incomes to make comparisons between the haves and the have-nots within nations, between nations, and among citizens of the world. He offers vignettes that make his concepts all the more accessible and entertaining as he explains the errors of Marxism and why a person’s relative wealth is determined more by their country of origin than by their family’s wealth. Milanovic writes as much like a philosopher as an economist as he ponders the growing trend of inequality in income around the world and answers questions many readers likely ask themselves about their economic prospects. --Vanessa Bush

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