Xinyue Zhao Professor Mahajan EEP 151 15 September 2019 To Flat the Globe or To Tear It Apart Whether globalization is propelling countries worldwide to converge has always been in the spotlight of public debate, as it is discussed multidimensionally in an essay by Martin Ravallion. The essay questions the thesis of two books written by Francois Bourguignon and Branko Milanovic, and inspects their limitations of measurements. This paper reviews his essay, and comments on his critical analysis, based on my understanding of the topic. Ravallion first sums up the trend of global inequality presented in the two books—a pattern of falling inequality between countries alongside rising average inequality within countries. Then he questions the argument: globalization has been a major driving force of inequality between or within countries. Initially, Economic integration that shifted low skilled jobs to low-wage countries, is believed by the two economists to drive up withincountry inequality and down between-country inequality, while Ravallion points out that the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the stagnation in Japan, technical innovations, and many more factors that cannot be attributed to globalization, contributed to changes in the global inequality landscape. When it comes to trade openness, Ravallion argues that it is more often promoted by domestic policy reforms rather than globalization, moreover, it may reduce or increase inequality due to different net trading positions in relevant markets. As for economic policy, Ravallion believes that its role is understated, since strong political will can lead to significant inroads against high inequality despite the global trend, and Its influence varies with pre-reform differences in inequality levels as well. Besides, the essay questioned the data and measures used in the books. It points out that selective compliance and different choices of index can lead to inaccuracy of evidence. The measurement methods are also considered unconvincing due to the lack of measuring absolute and horizontal inequality. What I most agree, is that income should not be the only measurement for inequality. HDI may be a more revealing index in my opinion, since it reflects inequality in welfare, and reduces inaccuracy such as purchasing power differences. I agree with Ravallion that in the two books, the explanation for the dominant role of globalization is unconvincing, but I question some of his augments as well. He thinks that if globalization is a driving force, then a slowing of global trade will slow the trend of inequality. He disproves the result by predicting that other economic forces could assure continuing global convergence. This proof seems imperfect to me, not only because he uses forecasts as a proof, but because the mechanism of globalization influencing on global inequality is not well understood. The effect of globalization may be accumulative to time, or it generates lasting effect once the base of economic interactivity is established. Another problem is the matter of objective and subjective measurements. Ravallion supports using absolute inequality index rather than relative because people tend to “think about inequality in absolute terms”. In my opinion, a measure’s practical influence is more important than subjective feeling. For example, I do agree that giving more weight to inequality within countries is reasonable, since it is more concerned with social stability and democracy. Finally, I believe that we care about global inequality not simply out of empathy for the less fortunate, but a curiosity to find out how globalization will reconstruct our nations, tearing them apart while merging them all.