Income distribution over two centuries

200 years ago, everyone was poor

40 years ago, the income distribution had two modes, and global inequality was higher than it is today

Now, there is a single global middle class, and global income inequality is low, and most people are rich by 200-year-old living standards.

What’s weird is that within individual countries, inequality has gone up in the last 40 years, but globally it has gone down. This is an example of Simpson’s paradox.

The good news is that the trends are in a good direction, the bad news is that there is a lot of room for regress. All this is the result of a bunch of people with different motives, living in different countries with different policies, no single thing can take credit for this, and almost nothing can stop it (except a giant asteroid or nuclear war).

This is why I’m optimistic about the future.