This paper studies the long-term evolution in inequality between nations, defined as the ratio of GDP per capita of the two groups conventionally called ‘The North’ and ‘The South’.
With the exception of China, inequality has risen for most of the past seventy years and is now twice as bad as in 1950. An important surge took place between 2002 and 2012 in the relative position of the South, but peaked at a worse level than its previous best in 1980.
Divergence, so defined, is a long-term general trend.
These facts contradict widespread claims that Divergence has ceased or reversed or that international inequality is an ignorable problem. This suggests that data providers have paid inadequate attention to the use, classification, and interpretation of their own data. It also suggests that commentators, including critics of mainstream theory, have placed unjustified trust in the data providers.
The scale of divergence is very large: the average income per capita of the top quartile of the South is one-tenth that of the lowest quartile of the North. This dwarfs all other inequalities including that within countries, by an order of magnitude, showing that inequality between nations – to which most international studies of poverty and inequality pay scant attention or have even suppressed from their reportage– is by far and away the dominant cause of inequality worldwide.
By placing both our results and the underlying data at the disposal of the public, we provide critical thinkers with the means to study the facts for themselves.