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date: 25 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Levels of economic inequality differ extensively when comparisons are made between nation states, although, worldwide, inequalities remain highest in the poorest countries. Yet now even some of the wealthiest nations have markedly high levels of income inequality. This chapter concentrates on illustrating this unprecedented, contemporary transformation in income inequalities towards greater geographical variation between affluent countries. In particular, new data analysis included here uncovers significant idiosyncrasies in the income distributions of the UK and USA, as compared with other wealthy countries. Increasingly robust evidence suggests that high and rising inequalities in a few affluent nations have far-reaching implications, and income inequality should be recognized as a source of extensive negative externalities. These recent developments underscore the need for the subdiscipline of economic geography to focus far more on understanding patterns and changes in income inequality within prosperous nations. Thus far, geographers have largely neglected the subject and its consequences.

Keywords: externality, income, inequality, affluent countries, UK, USA

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