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- July 1, 2011: Vol. 3, Number 7

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Unequal Consequences: Income Inequality Can Have Both Positive and Negative Effects on a Society

by Alex Eidlin

While attending conferences in Asia, I happened to come across an interesting topic presented by one speaker in Beijing: The rapid growth that China has been experiencing in the past couple decades has brought a lot of changes to a once “harmonious” society where wealth and social benefits were once equally distributed to all citizens. At least that was the idea behind the communist system. Although in reality inequalities in communist societies appeared as soon as the political power was redistributed, the income of the majority was not that different whether managing a factory, teaching in a school or composing poetry. The elite was small and inconspicuous.

When Deng Xiaoping, former leader of the People’s Republic of China, proclaimed decades ago that “getting rich is glorious,” the situation changed dramatically, and inequality in income — so normal in a capitalist society — became widespread in China. There are impressive sta

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