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El problema de la desigualdad… ¿dónde?

CAMBRIDGE – Leer el influyente último libro de Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century [El capital en el siglo XXI], lo deja a uno con la impresión de que el mundo nunca fue tan desigual desde los tiempos de los reyes y los barones ladrones. Es extraño, porque hay otro libro excelente publicado hace poco, The Great Escape [El gran escape] de Angus Deaton (del que hice una reseña), según el cual habría que concluir que el mundo nunca ha sido tan igualitario.

¿Cuál de las dos visiones es correcta? La respuesta depende de que uno contemple los países individualmente o el mundo en su conjunto.

El dato principal del libro de Deaton es que durante las últimas décadas, varios miles de millones de habitantes de los países en desarrollo (particularmente en Asia) lograron salir de niveles de pobreza realmente desesperantes. El mismo mecanismo que aumentó la desigualdad en los países ricos niveló el campo de juego para miles de millones de personas a escala global. En perspectiva, y asignando la misma consideración (por poner un ejemplo) a un indio que a un estadounidense o un francés, los últimos 30 años han sido de los mejores de la historia por lo que respecta a la mejora de las condiciones de vida de los pobres.

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