A Political Economy of the United States, China, and India: Prosperity With Inequality

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A Political Economy of the United States, China, and India: Prosperity With Inequality
By Shalendra D. Sharma
Cambridge University Press, 2018
232 pp.

Sharma compares economic growth and inequality in the world’s three most populous countries—China, India, and the United States—and then draws connections to globalization and domestic politics. He summarizes a wealth of scholarly research in this compact volume. Worldwide inequality has fallen over the last 30 years thanks to the rapid economic growth that has slashed poverty in China and India. But inequality has risen within each of the countries Sharma studied and in many others, as well. Globalization has played a role in both trends. Exports have created a lot of low-wage jobs in China and cut prices for Americans, bringing down global inequality (although trade has done less to help the more protectionist India). Meanwhile, the accompanying free flow of capital across borders has made its owners richer, concentrating wealth in the hands of a few. Local politics also shape inequality. In the United States, campaign contributions help determine who gets elected and the policies they enact. Local politics also play a big role in authoritarian China and democratic India, where political connections and outright bribery dictate policy and ensure that the wealthy grow ever wealthier.

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