In the second figure, each country's per capita GDP is plotted in sequence. Here, the jumps in the line show discontinuities between groups of countries with the growing peak at far right showing those few mega-rich states.
The data show that the world is clearly growing richer, but also that it is doing so at several speeds. This should be no surprise. It does, however, heighten inequality between countries. Instead of being mostly poor and remaining that way, countries are growing richer, but at different rates. While this is a good outcome, for some (cynics, realists, and opportunists) it is a second-best outcome after growing rich right now quicker than everyone else. Also, while individuals may be content as they grow richer, inequality in progress alters regional and global power structures, which may have some disconcerting effects for zealots that will be manipulated by populists or opportunists. Inequality may drive discontent and may drive conflict, even in a world that is getting richer across the board.
All data is from the IMF's World Economic Outlook dataset.
|Distribution of Per Capita GDP at PPP in 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010, and 2015|
|Per Capita GDP at PPP Plotted Sequentially|