Rich people in the Hamptons Spencer Platt/Getty Images

La complejidad de la desigualdad

MÚNICH – Desde 2013, cuando Thomas Piketty publicó su tan discutido estudio de la distribución del ingreso y la riqueza, la desigualdad ha estado al frente del debate público en las economías más avanzadas. Se la culpa de todo, desde un crecimiento lento y un estancamiento de la productividad hasta el ascenso del populismo y el voto por el Brexit. Pero la desigualdad sigue estando mal definida, sus efectos son sumamente variables y sus causas están en el centro de un debate encendido.

Hasta la pregunta más básica -cuánta desigualdad es demasiada- es prácticamente imposible de responder. No existe ninguna "tasa natural de desigualdad" que caracterice a una economía en equilibrio, un nivel al que los responsables de las políticas puedan apuntar. Más bien, las tasas de desigualdad de los países se miden entre sí -una estrategia limitada que ignora todo desde las tendencias económicas más amplias hasta las diferencias en el impacto de la desigualdad de la riqueza en poblaciones en diferentes contextos sociales.

En un momento en que todos parecen quejarse de la desigualdad, la riqueza, a nivel global, está más distribuida que nunca. Solamente en los últimos 16 años, la cantidad de gente que califica para la inclusión en la clase media global -al nivel de hoy, la gente con activos financieros netos de 7.000-43.000 euros (7.400-44.600 dólares)- se ha más que duplicado, a más de 1.000 millones, o aproximadamente el 20% de la población mundial.

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