At tonight’s presidential primary debate, the topic of income inequality is almost guaranteed to come up. The widening gap between the rich and the poor is shaping up to be one of the defining themes of this election cycle. A recent, high-profile documentary called “Inequality for All” makes the case that this is a foremost social problem.
In the video below, George Mason economics professor Tyler Cowen explains that income inequality is not only a national issue but also a global one. And because of recent income growth in countries like China and India that has lifted billions of people out of poverty, income inequality is actually falling worldwide.
Cowen points out that the very globalization that may contribute to income inequality nationally has had the opposite effect globally. As we grapple with this issue at home, we should be careful not destroy the engines of prosperity — globalization and free trade – that have improved the lives of billions abroad.
But don’t expect this nuanced view of inequality to be mentioned by presidential contenders. “Inequality for some” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.