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世界充满了不平等,但这其实是可以避免的

更新时间:2017-12-16 11:55:14 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

It’s an Unequal World. It Doesn’t Have to Be.
世界充满了不平等,但这其实是可以避免的

Global inequality, after widening for decades, has stabilized. The share of the world’s income captured by the top 1 percent has shrunk since its peak on the eve of the financial crisis. The bottom half of the population is reaping its biggest share of the global pie since Ronald Reagan was elected president of the United States.

全球不平等问题在持续加剧几十年后稳定了下来。自金融危机前夕达到最高水平后,最富有的1%人群在世界收入中所占的比例下降。从罗纳德·里根(Ronald Reagan)当选美国总统以来,美国收入水平靠后的一半人口,在全球的蛋糕中分到的份额一直是最大的。

But here’s the bad news: The respite probably won’t last. Despite rapid strides among developing economies like China and India, which have been closing the income gap with the world’s richer nations, growing inequality within almost every country will drive a further concentration of income around the globe.

但坏消息是:这种稳定可能不会持续下去。尽管中国和印度等发展中经济体发展迅速,与全球富裕国家之间的收入差距不断缩小,但几乎每个国家内部的不平等都在加剧,这将推动全球收入进一步集中。

Examining the “World Inequality Report” — published Thursday by the creators of the World Wealth and Income Database, who include the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez — it is tempting to see the rising concentration of incomes as some sort of unstoppable force of nature, an economic inevitability driven by globalization and technology. The report finds that the richest 1 percent of humanity reaped 27 percent of the world’s income between 1980 and 2016. The bottom 50 percent, by contrast, got only 12 percent.

包括经济学家托马斯·皮凯蒂(Thomas Piketty)和伊曼纽尔·塞斯(Emmanuel Saez)在内的世界财富与收入数据库(World Wealth and Income Database)创建者于周四发布了《世界不平等报告》(World Inequality Report),通过研读这份报告,我们不禁要把这种不断加剧的收入集中当作某种不可阻挡的自然力量,认为它是全球化和科技对经济造成的必然结果。该报告发现,1980至2016年间,人类中最富有的1%获得了世界收入的27%。相比之下,收入处于后50%的人只获得了12%。

Nowhere has the distribution of the pie become more equitable. In China, 15 percent of the income growth since 1980 flowed to the richest 1 percent of Chinese while 13 percent flowed to the bottom half. Even in egalitarian, social-democratic Europe, 1-percenters got 18 percent of the growth in the period. The bottom half got 14 percent. And among the more unequal regions of the world — the United States, say, or Russia — income disparities are reaching levels not before seen in modern history: The bottom half of Americans captured only 3 percent of total growth since 1980. The income of the bottom half of Russians actually shrank.

没有哪个地方的蛋糕分配变得更加公平。在中国,自1980年以来15%的收入增长流向了人口中最富有的1%,流向收入垫底那一半人口的只有13%;即便是在奉行平等主义和社会民主主义的欧洲,最富裕的1%也在这个时期获得了财富增长中的18%,而收入水平靠后的那一半人口只得到了14%;在全球更不平等的地区——比如美国或俄罗斯——收入差距即将达到近代历史上从未出现过的水平:自1980年以来,处于收入分配底层的一半美国人仅获得了经济总增长的3%;俄罗斯收入靠后那一半人口的收入实际上还减少了。

Diverging Patterns

偏离的模式

And yet, a careful examination of the data suggests there is nothing inevitable about untrammelled inequality. Take China and India, developing countries of billion-plus populations playing catch-up to pull themselves out of poverty. Incomes have become much more concentrated in both. But China’s economic strategy has delivered much more growth at a lower cost in terms of economic disparity. Comparing Europe with the United States and Canada offers similar contrasts.

然而,仔细研究数据会发现,关于这种不受约束的不平等,没有什么是不可避免的。以中国和印度这两个人口超10亿、正在你追我赶奋力摆脱贫困的发展中国家为例。两国的收入都变得更加集中,但中国的经济战略使其以较低的成本——就经济差距而言——实现了多得多的增长。将欧洲与美国和加拿大相比较,也会发现类似的反差。

Policy, it turns out, matters. More aggressive redistribution through taxes and transfers has spared Europe from the acute disparities that Americans have grown used to. Unequal access to education is helping reproduce inequality in the United States down the generations. On the other end of the spectrum of development, China’s strategy based on low-skill manufacturing for export, and underpinned by aggressive investment in infrastructure, has proven more effective at raising living standards for the bottom half of the population than India’s more inward-looking strategy, which has limited the benefits of globalization to the well-educated elite.

事实证明,政策很重要。通过税收和财富转移进行更剧烈的再分配,使欧洲摆脱了严重的收入差距,而美国人已经习惯了这种差距。不平等的受教育机会正在助长美国的不平等现象在一代又一代人身上重演。事实证明,在选择了不同发展模式的中国,以面向出口的低技术制造业为基础、以强劲的基础设施投资作支撑的战略,在提高收入水平靠后那一半人口的生活水平上,比印度的战略更有效。印度的战略更重视国内,制约了全球化给受过良好教育的精英阶层带来的好处。

Where is global inequality going? Policy choices — about taxes and education, employment rules and finance regulations — will play a big role in shaping how countries around the world distribute the spoils of growth in the future. But the most powerful force driving the distribution of income on a worldwide scale will be raw economic growth: if economic catch-up by developing nations shrinks the income gap between rich and poor countries faster than inequality increases inside each country, the global disparity of income will narrow.

全球不平等将如何发展?税收与教育、就业规则和金融监管方面的政策选择,将在未来世界各国发展成果如何分配的问题上发挥巨大的影响力。但是,推动全球范围内收入分配最强大的力量将是切实的经济增长:发展中国家的经济赶超会缩小贫穷国家与富裕国家之间差距,如果这种差距缩小的速度比各国内部贫富差距加大的速度快,全球的收入差距就会缩小。

How World Income Grows

世界收入增长形势

The question is, how fast can developing countries grow in the future? The answer, unfortunately, is not fast enough. If China’s furious economic growth over the last couple of decades was not enough to bring about a more equitable distribution of income on a global scale, it seems hard to imagine the kind of economic miracle that could shrink the worldwide income gap.

问题是,发展中国家未来的发展能有多快?很遗憾,答案是还不够快。如果中国过去几十年迅猛的经济增长都不足以促使全球范围内的收入分配变得更加公平,很难想象一种能够缩小全球收入差距的经济奇迹。

China’s economic miracle was an unprecedented feat: in one generation, an unproductive nation of farmers transformed itself into a manufacturing export colossus, a giant of capitalism. Since 1980, its share of the world’s income has grown to 19 percent from 3 percent. Its income per person has grown almost 15 times as fast as that of the United States and Canada, and almost 19 times as fast as that of the European Union — to 90 percent of the world average, from 15 percent. Once at the bottom of the world’s income distribution, Chinese are now much more broadly represented across the spectrum of the world’s income.

中国的经济奇迹是一项前所未有的壮举:在一代人的时间里,一个生产力低下的农业国家,把自己变成了一个制造业出口大国、一个资本主义巨人。自1980年以来,中国在世界收入中的份额从3%上升到了19%;它的人均收入增长速度几乎是美国和加拿大的15倍,欧盟的19倍,从世界平均水平的15%上升到了90%。在世界收入分配中一度垫底的中国,如今在全球收入领域的存在大大增强。

China’s rising income was pretty much the only force pushing for a more equitable share of the spoils of growth, holding world inequality down even as the incomes of the world’s biggest earners surged ahead and workers in the industrialized world mostly got stuck. And yet it wasn’t enough.

中国的收入水平不断提高,几乎是推动经济增长成果分配更加公平的唯一力量。在世界收入最高人群的收入遥遥领先、工业化国家的劳动者大多驻足不前之际,中国的收入增加减轻了全世界的不平等。但这还不够。

As China has become richer and its growth has slowed, its impact on how the world’s income pie is sliced is likely to be mixed: Once the income of the average Chinese exceeds the world average, China's fast growth will start adding to inequality, rather than mitigating it. And it seems implausible that India and sub-Saharan Africa, today at the bottom of the world’s income distribution, will experience anything in the coming three decades like what China experienced in the last three.

随着中国变得更加富裕、经济增长放缓,它对世界收入分配的影响可能有好有坏:一旦中国的平均收入超过世界平均水平,中国的快速增长就会开始加剧而不是减缓不平等。而眼下处在世界收入分配底部的印度和撒哈拉沙漠以南非洲,似乎难以在未来30年里经历类似于中国过去30年那样的发展。

The Future of Inequality

不平等的未来

Will poor countries make sufficient progress relative to their rich peers to bring more balance to the distribution of global income? Or will rising inequality within countries dominate? It depends on three forces: countries’ economic and population growth, as well as the evolution of inequality within them. The World Inequality Report takes a shot at projecting these forces, drawing from economic forecasts by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, population projections from the United Nations and the evolution of inequality in each country over 36 years. If you care about equity, it doesn’t look good.

是贫穷国家取得足够的进步——相对于富裕国家来说——从而让全球收入分配变得更加平衡?还是各国内部日渐加剧的不平等会取胜?这取决于三股力量:国家的经济和人口增长,以及国家内部不平等现象的演变。《世界不平等报告》利用经济合作与发展组织(Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)的经济预测、联合国的人口预测和各国36年中不平等现象的演变情况,尝试对这些力量进行了预测。如果你关心公平,我可以告诉你,结果看上去并不乐观。

If the evolution of income inequality in every country remains on the same path it has been since 1980, the plateau in global inequality since 2000 will prove to be but a temporary blip: by 2050, the bottom half of the world’s population will draw only 9 percent of the world’s income, a percentage point less than today. One-percenters at the top, by contrast, will reap 24 percent of the global income pie, up from 21 percent in 2016.

如果各国的收入差距继续按照1980年以来的趋势演变,自2000年以来的全球收入稳定期会证明只是暂时的回落:到2050年,全球收入靠后的一半人口只能获得世界收入的9%,比今天还低一个百分点;相比之下,收入靠前的1%人群将获得全球收入的24%,而2016年这个比例为21%。

But again, policy matters. Say countries decide to push vigorously back against inequality — as vigorously as the European Union pushed in the 36 years after 1980. In that case, the world’s income gap would even shrink a little: by 2050, the bottom half would get 13 percent of the pie; the share of the top 1 percent would shrink to 19 percent of the world’s income.

但同样,政策很重要。比方说,各国决定大力遏制不平等现象,就像欧盟在1980年之后的36年里所做的那样。在这种情况下,全球收入差距甚至会降低一点:到2050年,收入垫底的一半人口将分到13%的蛋糕,收入最高的1%分到的世界收入将减少到19%。

What we probably don’t want the world to do is follow the trajectory of inequality in the United States. If it were to do that, by 2050 the few at the top of the pyramid would be drawing 28 percent of global income. The bottom half would get only about 6 percent.

我们可能不希望看到世界遵循美国的不平等发展的轨迹。如果是那样,到2050年,处在金字塔顶端的少数人将获得全球收入的28%,收入靠后的一半人口只能得到大约6%。

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