In This Review

Imagine There's No Country: Poverty, Inequality, and Growth in the Era of Globalization
Imagine There's No Country: Poverty, Inequality, and Growth in the Era of Globalization
By Surjit S. Bhalla
Institute for International Economics, 2002, 248 pp

This book challenges the conventional contention that the world in recent years has experienced both increased poverty and increased inequality, attributed by some to integration of nations into the world economy. After painstaking research and analysis, Bhalla convincingly demonstrates that both propositions are incorrect. On the World Bank's criterion, poverty has dropped decade by decade from 56 percent of the population of developing countries in 1950 to 9 percent in 2000. World inequality, based on people rather than countries, has also declined -- especially in the last two decades, the period of most rapid globalization. Even if inequality rises in every country, world inequality may paradoxically decline if poor countries grow faster than rich countries. Fast-rising China and India, which together contain nearly 40 percent of the world's population, are a large part of the global story. To back its controversial conclusions, the book relies on much technical discussion about sources, the reliability of data, and the appropriate analytical attack. But it is written in a lively style, and its significant findings are clearly highlighted and explained.