Background Note | HBS Case Collection | May 2005 (Revised May 2011)

Inequality and Globalization

by David A. Moss, Anna Harrington and Jonathan Schlefer


Inequality represented a major issue at the dawn of the 21st century. By many measures, inequality had increased over the previous several decades, within both developed and developing countries. Whether global inequality (measured across countries or among the people of the world) increased remained controversial. Even in those cases where experts agreed that inequality had risen, there was little consensus about the causes. Some blamed globalization for the growing gulf between rich and poor, whereas others pointed to technology, government policies, and even social norms. Experts also disagreed over whether rising inequality was even a problem, particularly in those places where the poverty rate was low or falling.

Keywords: Equality and Inequality; Wealth and Poverty; Income; Globalization;


Moss, David A., Anna Harrington, and Jonathan Schlefer. "Inequality and Globalization." Harvard Business School Background Note 705-040, May 2005. (Revised May 2011.)