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Policy Research Talk: A Global View of Inequality

September 16, 2019

Washington, DC and Online


  • Inequality has been blamed for many of the challenges faced by contemporary societies. But has inequality around the world actually worsened? A close examination of the data that distinguishes inequality between countries from inequality within countries tells a story of striking contrasts.

    In this Policy Research Talk, World Bank economist Christoph Lakner will discuss the latest evidence on inequality around the world, drawing in part on the 2016 Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report. Global inequality—defined as the inequality between all persons in the world irrespective of their country of residence—has fallen recently. This welcome trend has been driven by a decline in inequality between countries. However, the evidence on within-country inequality is more mixed. Lakner will also discuss measurement challenges, in particular the likely underrepresentation of the richest in household surveys.

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    Christoph Lakner (Speaker)


    Christoph Lakner is an Economist in the Development Research Group (Poverty & Inequality team) at the World Bank. He holds a DPhil, MPhil and BA in Economics from the University of Oxford. His research interests include inequality, poverty, and labor markets in developing countries. In particular, he has been working on global inequality, the relationship between inequality of opportunity and growth, implications of regional price differences for inequality, and the income composition of top incomes. He is also involved in the World Bank’s global poverty monitoring and co-leads PovcalNet, the home of the World Bank’s global poverty numbers.


    Aart Kraay (Chair)

    Director of Research

    Aart Kraay is Director of the Development Research Group at the World Bank. He joined the World Bank in 1995 after earning a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University (1995), and a B.Sc. in economics from the University of Toronto (1990). His research interests include international capital movements, growth and inequality, governance, and the Chinese economy. His research on these topics has been published in scholarly journals such as the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Review of Economics and Statistics, the Economic Journal, the Journal of Monetary Economics, the Journal of International Economics, and the Journal of the European Economic Association. He is an associate editor of the Journal of Development Economics, and co-editor of the World Bank Economic Review. He has also held visiting positions at the International Monetary Fund and the Sloan School of Management at MIT, and has taught at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.


    Louise Cord (Discussant)

    Global Director, Social Development

    Louise Cord is the Global Director for Social Development in the World Bank’s Sustainable Development Practice Group. Prior to this, Ms. Cord was the Country Director for Senegal, Cabo Verde, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, and Mauritania, based in Dakar, Senegal. Prior to her appointment as Country Director, she was Practice Manager in the Poverty Global Practice responsible for Latin America and the Caribbean.

  • The monthly Policy Research Talks showcase the latest findings of the World Bank’s research department, challenge and contribute to the institution’s intellectual climate, and re-examine conventional wisdom in current development theories and practice. These talks facilitate a dialogue between researchers and operational staff and inform World Bank operations both globally and within partner countries.


  • TIME: 12:30 - 2:00PM ET
  • Location: MC 13-121