जुलाई 23, 2021
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Newsletter | July 2021

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📚 Book: “Political Cleavages and Social Inequalities

Political cleavages and social inequalities

Who votes for whom and why? Why has growing inequality in many parts of the world not led to renewed class-based conflicts, and seems instead to have come with the emergence of new divides over identity and integration?
On April 1st 2021, Amory Gethin, Clara Martinez-Toledano and Thomas Piketty published “Political Cleavages and Social Inequalities” (in French), a collective work of 20 researchers around the world. The authors draw on a unique set of surveys conducted between 1948 and 2020 in fifty countries on five continents, analyzing the links between voters’ political preferences and socioeconomic characteristics, such as income, education, wealth, occupation, religion, ethnicity, age, and gender. This analysis sheds new light on how political movements succeed in coalescing multiple interests and identities in contemporary democracies. It also helps us understand the conditions under which conflicts over inequality become politically salient, as well as the similarities and constraints of voters supporting ethnonationalist politicians like Narendra Modi, Jair Bolsonaro, Marine Le Pen, and Donald Trump.

Book details

The World Political Cleavages and Inequality Database (WPID)

The World Political Cleavages and Inequality Database (WPID) is the companion website of the book. The central aim is to provide open and convenient access to the most extensive available dataset on the structure of political cleavages and social inequalities in electoral democracies, located on the five continents, from the mid-20th century to the present.
>> Explore the data: //wid.world/

Routledge’s Handbook On The Middle East Economy

Facundo Alvaredo, Lydia Assouad and Thomas Piketty contributed to the Routledge Handbook on the Middle East Economy, published on July 9th 2021. The chapter “Measuring Inequality in the Middle East”, part of the section IV on ‘Poverty, Inequality and Social Policy’, comes as a continuity of the research papers and data on inequality in the Middle East, available on WID.world.

2022 World Inequality Report &  World Inequality Conference

The second edition of the World Inequality Report will be released on December 7th, 2021, and presented during the World Inequality Conference (previously WID.world Conference), to be hosted at the Paris School of Economics on December 7th and 8th, 2021. The conference will be structured around three axes: (i) latest findings on global inequality and implications for future research and for the global policy debate, (ii) progress made in the DINA-Distributional National Accounts agenda and (iii) presentations of research on all dimensions of socioeconomic inequality, for which we are welcoming submissions.
Paper submission. Please submit your paper in pdf format to conference@wid.world by September 5th, 2021, indicating whether you will require funding, and whether you are a PhD student. Decisions are expected to be announced by September 20th, 2021. The complete call is available here.

📄 Selection of working papers

  • Global Income Inequality, 1820-2020: In this paper, Lucas Chancel and Thomas Piketty mobilize newly available historical series from the World Inequality Database to construct world income distribution estimates from 1820 to 2020. The authors find that the level of global income inequality has always been very large, reflecting the persistence of a highly hierarchical world economic system.


  • Changing Political Cleavages in 21 Western Democracies: In this paper, Amory Gethin, Clara Martínez-Toledano and Thomas Piketty provide new evidence on the long-run evolution of political cleavages in 21 Western democracies by exploiting a new database on the vote by socioeconomic characteristic covering over 300 elections held between 1948 and 2020.


  • The Concentration of Personal Wealth in Italy: In this paper, Paolo Acciari, Facundo Alvaredo and Salvatore Morelli expand the windows of observation on the distribution of personal wealth using a novel source on the full record of inheritance tax files. The data cover up to 63% of the deceased population and are available between 1995 and 2016, a period of substantial economic turbulence and structural reform for the Italian economy.


  • Developing Countries in Times of Covid: Comparing Inequality Impacts And Policy Responses: In this brief, Tancrède Voituriez and Lucas Chancel explore the socioeconomic inequality impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, within and across countries, and the impacts of the policy responses designed to mitigate them. Recalling that pre-Covid economic and sanitary conditions where unfavorable to non-OECD countries, the brief emphasizes the role played by low-tech and prevention measures in these countries.


  • China’s Pension System: In this paper, Li Yang reviews the latest development of China’s public pension system. Last several decades saw China’s tremendous achievement in various public pension reforms. Especially since the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010), the reform has accelerated. By 2019, the public pension system in China has covered almost one billion adults, which makes it the biggest pension system in the world.


  • Political Cleavages in Algeria, Iraq, and Turkey: In this paper, Lydia Assouad, Amory Gethin, Thomas Piketty and Juliet-Nil Uraz draw on political attitudes surveys to document the evolution of political cleavages in light of inequality dynamics in Algeria (2002-2018), Iraq (2005-2018), and Turkey (1991-2018). The authors investigate how social divides and ethno-religious conflicts shape voting behaviors in these three countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Debates on equality

Next Debate

The next Debate on equality will take place on September 15th, 2021:
 Une brève histoire de l’égalité“, by Thomas Piketty (in French) – Registration

Upcoming sessions

The full programme is available on our website.


The recordings of our debates are available on the WID.world Youtube channel.


Selection of recent contributions:


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