Inequelity beyond GDP: A long view Articles uri icon

publication date

  • September 2023

start page

  • 533

end page

  • 554


  • 3


  • 69

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0034-6586

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1475-4991


  • This paper addresses international inequality in multidimensional well-being during the last one-and-a-half centuries. Inequality fell in health and education since the late 1920s, due to the globalization of mass schooling and the diffusion of the health transition, but only dropped in population-weighted terms from 1970 onward for political and civil liberties, as the emergence of authoritarian regimes increased its dispersion since the end of World War I. In terms of augmented human development inequality declined since 1900. These results are at odds with per capita income inequality that rose over time and only shrank from 1990 onward. The gap between the OECD and the Rest of the world accounted only partially for inequality in well-being since the dispersion within developing regions became its main driver from the mid-20th century onward. Countries in the middle and lower deciles of the world distribution achieved the largest relative gain over the past century.


  • History
  • Medicine
  • Politics
  • Sociology
  • Statistics


  • augmented human development; civil and political liberties; inequality; life expectancy; schooling