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The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality [Kindle Edition]

Branko Milanovic
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Who is the richest person in the world, ever? Does where you were born affect how much money you’ll earn over a lifetime? How would we know? Why—beyond the idle curiosity—do these questions even matter? In The Haves and the Have-Nots, Branko Milanovic, one of the world’s leading experts on wealth, poverty, and the gap that separates them, explains these and other mysteries of how wealth is unevenly spread throughout our world, now and through time.
Milanovic uses history, literature and stories straight out of today’s newspapers, to discuss one of the major divisions in our social lives: between the haves and the have-nots. He reveals just how rich Elizabeth Bennet’s suitor Mr. Darcy really was; how much Anna Karenina gained by falling in love; how wealthy ancient Romans compare to today’s super-rich; where in Kenyan income distribution was Obama’s grandfather; how we should think about Marxism in a modern world; and how location where one is born determines his wealth. He goes beyond mere entertainment to explain why inequality matters, how it damages our economics prospects, and how it can threaten the foundations of the social order that we take for granted.
Bold, engaging, and illuminating, The Haves and the Have-Nots teaches us not only how to think about inequality, but why we should.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Milanovic defies the typical image of an economist by presenting research overlaid with humor, literary insights, and fully imagined portraits of daily life as he examines inequality across time and continents. He weighs the wealth divide between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice as well as Anna Karenina’s financial prospects had she married Vronsky. He ponders John Rawls, Alexis de Tocqueville, Karl Marx, Max Weber, and others to explore theories regarding the rich and the poor. Using complicated economic models that he explains very well, Milanovic breaks down incomes to make comparisons between the haves and the have-nots within nations, between nations, and among citizens of the world. He offers vignettes that make his concepts all the more accessible and entertaining as he explains the errors of Marxism and why a person’s relative wealth is determined more by their country of origin than by their family’s wealth. Milanovic writes as much like a philosopher as an economist as he ponders the growing trend of inequality in income around the world and answers questions many readers likely ask themselves about their economic prospects. --Vanessa Bush


New York Times Book Review
“[A]n eclectic book on inequality…. [Milanovic’s] colorful vignettes…are almost uniformly delightful. No matter where you are on the income ladder, Milanovic’s examination of whether Bill Gates is richer than Nero makes for great cocktail party conversation.”

New York Journal of Books
“[Branko Milanovic] has fun with economics…. Behind the fun are some serious concerns about growing global income inequality…. And underlying the fun facts is a prodigious amount of research: everything from demographic patterns in 13th century Paris to interest rates in ancient Rome.”
Library Journal
“[A]n innovative look at price and consumption differences…. Students, practitioners, and anyone interested in economics and the issue of inequality would enjoy this.”
Booklist, starred review
“Milanovic defies the typical image of an economist by presenting research overlaid with humor, literary insights, and fully imagined portraits of daily life as he examines inequality across time and continents…. Milanovic writes as much like a philosopher as an economist as he ponders the growing trend of inequality in income around the world and answers questions many readers likely ask themselves about their economic prospects.”

Kirkus Reviews
“[A] timely look at the inequality of income and wealth…. Authoritative.”

Simon Johnson, Professor at MIT Sloan and co-author of the national bestseller 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown
“A brilliant tour through inequality, writ large and small, across the ages. Economics is often considered as ‘dismal’ and you may not be cheered up by what has been regarded as an acceptable distribution of income in the past (and what may be coming to our future). But The Haves and the Have-Nots is far from being a dismal book – it is entertaining, draws you in, and makes you think; this is the right way to draw attention to the substantive issues. Enrollments in economics courses would rise sharply if more writers followed Branko Milanovic’s lead.”
Moisés Naím, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, author of Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers,
and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy
“This is one of the most entertaining and original books you can read on a hot-button subject that will increasingly dominate the conversations in homes and government offices around the world. Economic inequality has always been part of the human experience and Branko Milanovic masterfully explains why it is still with us and why politicians, policy makers and the public are so often allured by policies that deepen inequality instead of reducing it. A delightful read!”
James K. Galbraith, author of The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too
“Charming, erudite, curious and deeply informed about every aspect of economic inequality. Branko Milanovic takes us on a tour from Austen to Tolstoy, from ancient Rome to modern Brazil via the late Soviet Union. He explores almost all the ways of thinking about inequality that there are. And he makes it seem easy, which it definitely is not.”
Angus Deaton, Professor of Economics and International Affairs, Princeton University, 2009 President of the American
Economic Association, author of The Analysis of Household Surveys: A Microeconometric Approach to Development Policy
“Where do you rank in the all-time world distribution of income? How about Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy? Or Anna Karenina? Was Octavian Augustus richer than Bill Gates? Why might China fall apart, like the USSR and Yugoslavia? Why should we care about differences in income and wealth? In this book of many delights, Branko Milanovic, who has spent 25 years studying global inequality, provides us with a veritable Arabian Nights of stories about inequality, drawing from history, literature, and everywhere in the world. A pleasure to read, and an eye-opener for haves and for have-nots alike.”
Thomas Pogge, Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs, Yale University, author of World Poverty and Human Rights: Cosmopolitan Responsibilities and Reforms
“Learn about the serious subject of economic inequality while you have plenty of fun traveling around the globe and far back in time! Through fascinating stories and wonderful illustrations, Branko Milanovic explains income and wealth inequality – their concepts, measurement, evolution, and role in human life – without compromising precision or balance. This is a delightful book, as commendable for vacations as for the classroom.”
The Washington Independent Review of Books
“[A] thoughtful new book that comes to grips with a much weightier topic, involving one of the biggest issues of our time: the inequality of incomes…. Milanovic’s brief and idiosyncratic little book provides quite an education.”
The Spectator (London)
“If you have the slightest interest in politics and macro-economics, you should be [in possession of this book].”
Time Out for Entertainment (Denver)
“Talk about a timely book. The Haves and the Have-Nots will get your blood boiling. World bank economist and expert on global inequality Branko Milanovic takes us back to a time when the world was divided in the very rich few and impoverished masses. He then jolts us to the present, where everyone in society is unquestionably better off, yet the income of the top 1.75% of the world’s population exceeds that of the bottom 77%.... No socialist manifesto, this is instead a thought-provoking work of how we got where we are and where this imbalance will take us.”
Foreign Affairs
“This delightful and quirky book explains in layman’s terms the evolution of income inequality over the years, within countries and between countries…. A growing volume of data on income distribution within countries and new data on purchasing power comparisons between countries have permitted the author…to make quantitative generalizations that could once only be guessed at.”
“[The Haves and the Have-Nots] will keep both specialists and nonspecialists engaged and learning. This is a wonderful book for anyone to read…. Highly recommended.”
Edward Chancellor, Financial Times
“The question of bad inequality is addressed at length in [this] entertaining new book by World Bank economist Branko Milanovic.”

Product Details

  • File Size: 893 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0465019749
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (December 28, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0047T869M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,156 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dispelling Myths December 28, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Professor Milanovic begins this book by explaining, "The objective of the stories around which this book is organized is to show, in an unusual and entertaining way, how inequality of income and wealth is present in many facets of our daily lives, in the stories we read or the discussions we have around our kitchen tables or in our schools or offices, and how inequality appears when we look at certain well-known phenomena from a different angle...The book is organized around three types of inequalities. In the first part, I deal with inequality among individuals within a single community - typically a nation...In the second part, I deal with inequality in income among countries or nations - which is also intuitively close to most of us because it is the sort of thing we notice when we travel, or when we watch the international news...In the third part, I move to the topic whose relevance and importance are of a much more recent vintage: global inequality, or inequality among all citizens of the world."

Professor Milanovic accomplishes this task by introducing the reader to several tools that professional economists use to describe and quantify inequality; "Kuznets' Hypothesis," the "Gini coefficient," and "Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) dollars," to name a few. The book is, on the whole, very engaging and easy to grasp. Each of the three chapters begins with an essay which is followed by several vignettes, or short stories, that give concrete examples of ideas outlined in the essay. There are more than a few spots in this book where Milanovic does a great job of dispelling some widely held myths.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to inequality April 18, 2011
This short book (about 220 pages) by World Bank economist Branko Milanovic is a great introduction to global economic inequality. The book is made up of three parts: inequality inside of nations, inequality among nations, and inequality among the people of the world. Each of the three sections is introduced with an "essay" that discusses the main ideas and introduces relevant economic tools (such as the Kuznets hypothesis and the Gini coefficient). After each essay Milanivic presents shorter (about six or seven pages each) "vignettes" to help convey the ideas discussed in the preceding essay. For example, one vignette used to convey inequality inside of nations discusses characters' incomes in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice". Another vignette discusses inequality in the Roman Empire. The vignettes are not all trivial bits of information, though. In fact, most of the book is a serious exposition of inequality; this book is no mere "Freakonomics" for inequality. Some more serious vignettes are concerned with globalization, economic mobility, and redistribution. In short, this book contains a wealth of information.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very interesting book April 11, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
very well written book, it gets you thinking aobut the meaning of inequality and the way you can see it all over the world. it's not too technical and approachable from different backgrounds (but I'm an economist, and so sometimes I would have liked to see a little more details --> I guess I'll have to read the papers and books cited as references!)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Source for Info on Inequality July 3, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If, like me, you are a nut for statistical data about the world, this is a good book for you...assuming you can stay with it to the end. The author presents a wide range of information as the book builds and builds, but it is near the end that the really good stuff comes. It is worth the wait, in my opinion. At the same time, there are sections of the book that bob and weave a bit. And finding a consistent central theme or focus is not easy.

The author is an economist and an academic. He does not appear, however, to be a great humanist. But he knows his history, pointing out that gaps in earnings primarily occur when "people move from agriculture into industry." He points out that folks around the world were relatively equal prior to the industrial revolution in England, and that most folks in most nations at that time were barely at a subsistence level.

Oh, sure, there were rich Kings and Nobles and such along the way, but they were nothing compared to the wealthy industrialists that were to emerge with industrialization. And as far as regions of the world, it is in the first half of the 18th century that Western Europe and North America really begin to separate from the rest of the world in terms of wealth. Prior to that, the comparative wealth of countries in the world was far more even.

In this line of thinking, the author feels that this is the factor that really defeated Karl Marx and his theories: Instead of the differences in inequality between classes around the world leading to change, it was the differences developed between countries and/or regions of the world that would lead to inequalities. But "Workers of the World, Unite," became more and more irrelevant under this scenario.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "just right" look at inequality December 16, 2011
"The Haves and the Have-Nots," by Branko Milanovic is the best "big-picture" publication I've found on inequality within and between countries and regions. It is moderately easy to read for non experts such as myself and is well documented for scholars. He offers some personal opinions but never to the detriment of the larger effort to create better-informed readers. The current Euro zone headlines are foreshadowed in the question "Can the European Union continue to absorb ever-poorer members without jeopardizing its won unity and viability?"

Professor Milanovic changed my mind on several points. I learned how difficult it is for even quite-successful poor countries, such as China and India, to attain wealth comparable to the USA. "If the U.S. GDP per capita grows by 1 percent, India's will need to grow by 17 percent, an almost impossible rate..." I understand more clearly now that, although inequality is well-distributed within the USA, Europe has less within-country inequality, but great inequality between nations. It was a shock to read that "the absolute gap in productivity between the United States and China...has significantly widened."

It is questionable that "In the long run the antimigration battle cannot be won--if globalization continues." While the statement may prove to be true, it has not yet been proved and thus falls into the realm of conjecture. This seems more an issue of national will than of inexorable forces. Already, the integrity of national borders varies enormously. Japan and some other nations exert tight control while some nations have little effective control.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 12 days ago by mertpep tice
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read for Those Concerned About Inequality
Milanovic hails from Serbia; he now lives and works in the US. In The Haves and the Have-Nots, he covers numerous important social issues related to inequality without getting... Read more
Published 3 months ago by blue ocotillo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. Clarifies issue of inequality and debunks some ...
Great book. Clarifies issue of inequality and debunks some myths. The author also displays great sense of humor. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Published 6 months ago by Willem van Eeghen
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written and Intrigiung Look at the Global Economy
A strong and thorough review of global inequality, truly eye-opening and surprising at points.
Published 6 months ago by MR MARC RAYMOND
5.0 out of 5 stars the issue of our new gilded age
Milanovic is very engaging and each of his chapters is comprised of a series of related vignettes dealing with the issue of our time: social inequality. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Alan Memmott
4.0 out of 5 stars great intro into inequality issue
I really enjoyed this book. Milanovic does an excellent job. I give it four stars because Im not sure he has any idea what kind of policies would help, and doesnt distinguish if... Read more
Published 11 months ago by troopa
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic must-read
A short yet full-of-content, easy-to-read yet deep, exploration of one of the most important economic issues of our time: inequality. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Boris Yakubchik
5.0 out of 5 stars This book could make you like economics
I have never held much interest in economics as a field of study, but this book may have changed my mind. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Amanda Rose Adams
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written, factual, easy to read
Well written, factual, easy to read, on a subject that is becoming the dominant issue in the modern world economy.
Published 14 months ago by Hermes
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
I enjoyed it and found it very educational. I loved the clear anecdotes that he used to teach the information.
Published 20 months ago by tkriwiel
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