Sam King
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Income polarisation in the neoliberal period
in Imperialism and the development myth
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The ‘neoliberal period’, from around 1980, saw wide-scale and rapid development of the productive forces across what used to be known as the ‘Third World’. This led to widespread expectations and perceptions that many regions were catching up to the development level of the rich countries. However, the income statistics tell a very story. Not only is the Third World not catching up with the income of the rich countries, it is falling further behind. That is the case for almost all of the so-called developing countries individually and also for them as a whole – including China. Besides the Cold War exceptional cases of South Korea and Taiwan, no Third World nations have either joined the small club of rich countries or even come close to doing so. The rich countries today form almost entirely the same club that has dominated the world economy for over a hundred years. Not only is the gap between the richest and poorest societies growing, today almost every country in the world, including 98.5 per cent of the global population, are concentrated in states that are either rich or poor – but mostly poor. There are no large, truly ‘middle-income’ countries. This polarisation of the whole world into rich and poor countries increased throughout the neoliberal period and the relationship between the two groups remains unchanged.

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Imperialism and the development myth

How rich countries dominate in the twenty-first century


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