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Inequality: diffusion and convergence

In this video Professor Derek Raine talks about how industrialisation spread across the world and affected distribution of income.

In the last steps we saw that reasons for England being the source of the industrial revolution were coal, steam power, canals, improvements in sanitation, growth of cities, intellectual property rights, and rule of law. Many economists would add the invention of joint stock companies which allowed much larger investments than could be funded by any individual.

In this video I talk about how industrialisation spread across the rest of the world.


  • Use this Excel Spreadsheet to see the effect of redistribution of incomes (The spreadsheet uses somewhat different data from that in the video based on individual incomes rather than country averages.)

  • The World Bank website allows you to download a spreadsheet of annual % GDP growth across various countries for the period 1990-2014. Use the data to plot the development trajectory of a country of your choice.

Discussion activity

In the video we showed the distribution of income on linear (additive) and logarithmic (multiplicative) scales. Which do you think is more appropriate?

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Concepts in Sustainable Development: An Introduction to the Key Issues

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