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Inequality: The Political Economy of Income Distribution.

The stated aim of this book is to (1) presents an overview of the facts and problems associated with income distribution viewed from an historical, geographical, and sociological perspective The sociological perspective is a particular way of approaching a phenomena common in sociology. It involves maintaining objectivity, not by divesting oneself of values, but by critically evaluating and testing ideas, and accepting what may be surprising or even displeasing based , (2) develop criteria for estimating more accurately the nature and extent of income inequality, and (3) make recommendations for systematic public policy to promote continued economic growth. The book is only partially successful in reaching its stated objectives.

In a very brief overview chapter, the author points out that the study of income inequality generally face a wide variety of problems ranging from measurement, interpretation, and policy prescriptions. The author promises to develop consistent tools for measuring income inequality and to apply these tools to discover what has happened to income distribution in recent years in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  and around the world. Chapter 2 broadly examines the meaning and causes of income inequality focusing on imperfect justice, rent, market power, discrimination, and comparative advantage. Chapter 3 is a pedagogical ped·a·gog·ic   also ped·a·gog·i·cal
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of pedagogy.

2. Characterized by pedantic formality: a haughty, pedagogic manner.
 review of measurements of inequality ranging from the Gini index and the Lorenz' curve and various types of distribution functions. Chapter 4 concentrates on inequality in the United States and focuses on the recent trend toward increased inequalities as the result of the Reagan's misconceived mis·con·ceive  
tr.v. mis·con·ceived, mis·con·ceiv·ing, mis·con·ceives
To interpret incorrectly; misunderstand.

 supply side economics. The author begins by examining income inequality among households, families, individuals, farm versus nonfarm, and black-white inequality, and then reviews long-term trends and the effect of sex discrimination and taxation on income inequality.

In Chapter 5, the author shifts from internal income inequality (i.e., within a nation) to international income inequality among nations. He begins by pointing out the well-known difficulties in comparing international income inequalities using exchange rates to convert national per capita income Noun 1. per capita income - the total national income divided by the number of people in the nation
income - the financial gain (earned or unearned) accruing over a given period of time
 into a common currency and the need to adjust that measure using Kravis, Heston, and Summers concept of Purchasing Power Parity Purchasing power parity

The notion that the ratio between domestic and foreign price levels should equal the equilibrium exchange rate between domestic and foreign currencies.
 (PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) The most popular method for transporting IP packets over a serial link between the user and the ISP. Developed in 1994 by the IETF and superseding the SLIP protocol, PPP establishes the session between the user's computer and the ISP using ). Still, he points out, some conceptual problems of comparability remain. In Chapter 6, the author returns to the analysis of internal income inequality in the process of economic development. After restating the Kuznets hypothesis that postulates that income inequalities first tends to increase and then to diminish in the course of economic development, he reviews empirical studies Empirical studies in social sciences are when the research ends are based on evidence and not just theory. This is done to comply with the scientific method that asserts the objective discovery of knowledge based on verifiable facts of evidence.  of the hypothesis and examines the question of whether the U-shaped patter pat·ter 1  
v. pat·tered, pat·ter·ing, pat·ters

1. To make a quick succession of light soft tapping sounds: Rain pattered steadily against the glass.
 of income inequality during the course of economic development is truly inevitable.

In Chapter 7 the author examines the broad consequences of increased income inequality for the kind of society in which we live. Here he wanders over a very large territory, including the effect of income inequality on population growth, education, racism, women's rights The effort to secure equal rights for women and to remove gender discrimination from laws, institutions, and behavioral patterns.

The women's rights movement began in the nineteenth century with the demand by some women reformers for the right to vote, known as suffrage, and
, and even land reform. In Chapter 8, the author shifts again the focus on the United States and explores in greater detail the thesis that he already presented in Chapter 4; that is, that increased income inequalities in the United States resulted from the "extreme belief in the blessings of free markets conducted without government interference" |p. 123~ and supply-side economics supply-side economics, economic theory that concentrates on influencing the supply of labor and goods as a path to economic health, rather than approaching the issue through such macroeconomic concerns as gross national product.  that resulted from it. Finally, in Chapter 8, the author points to the need to reverse the recent trend toward increased income inequalities in the United States and reviews the effectiveness of various policies that are possible to accomplish that.

All in all, I must confess that I was not impressed with this book. The author attempts to deal with both developed and developing countries, internal and international income inequality, and the causes and effects of inequality in a shallow and unrigorous way. I also would have liked to see a more in-depth discussion of the political economy of income inequality with much greater emphasis on the role of public institutions and regulations, government social services social services
Noun, pl

welfare services provided by local authorities or a state agency for people with particular social needs

social services nplservicios mpl sociales 
 and entitlement provisions, access to capital and resources by diverse social groups, ethnicity, employment, migration, fertility levels, household earnings and consumption. Moreover, I would have not shied away from discussing some aspects of income distribution in the former centrally planned economies, including an analysis of the social wage, monopolistic supply, shortages, and rationing in determining social stratification and inequality.
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Author:Salvatore, Dominick
Publication:Southern Economic Journal
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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