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不平等问题在哪里?

美国剑桥—阅读托马斯·皮克提(Thomas Piketty)风靡一时的新书《二十一世纪资本论》(Capital in the Twenty-First Century)会让你有这样一种感觉:自从强盗贵族和国王时代以来,世界从未如此不平等。这有些奇怪,因为阅读另一部出色的新书、安格斯·迪顿(Angus Deaton)的《大脱贫》(The Great Escape,我最近为它写了书评)会让你觉得世界比从前任何时候都更加平等。

哪种观点才是正确的?答案取决于你看的是以各个国家的视角还是以世界整体视角看待这一问题。

迪顿的书所提出的最重要的事实是,最近几十年中,生活在发展中世界的数十亿人(特别是在亚洲),名符其实地逃脱了令人绝望的贫困。在发达国家造成不平等加剧的同一套机制为全球数十亿人创造了公平竞技场。拉远视角并赋予(比如)硬度名字和美国或法国名字同样的权重你会发现,过去三十年是人类历史上穷人改善最大的时期。

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