Sunday, June 26, 2016

How Do You Like Kuznets?: On Milanovic's "Global Inequality"



I have a completely irrelevant critique on Milanovic’s new book.

I’ll get to it, but first I have to praise him. I read the book based on his blog, which Thoma links to often enough that when I saw that he was talking about a new book to be released, I knew O had to buy it. He’s smart and credentialed and has the resume, but most importantly, he is an engaging writer. It was when I went to preorder this one that I saw that he had an previous book, so I went and got that one to give me more background. And let me tell you, that other book is a super fun read if you like short vignettes about economics that build towards a larger point  - there he was looking at three sorts of inequalities: 1) between countries; 2) between people in countries; and 3) between people globally. 

Here he does the same thing, and I thinks that since its post Piketty he thought he had to take some of the fun out of it and be more empirical or rigorous or something.

Therefore, here’s the non-substantive critique: It was not as fun to read as his earlier book. Which is a horrible thing to say since here I should be looking at his ideas and assessing how he presents the Kuznets Wave he theories and the wealth inequality charts. And that’s there and good and if this were the first book, I read by him I just might be more engaged but it was not and I am apparently not Milanovic’s ideal reader. I read too much in economic history when the economist were telling stories and not having all these clever graphs and charts.