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Inequality in the distribution of income and wealth has been rising in many countries of the world, but the United States has the highest economic inequality in the developed world. Likewise Russia and China lead their peers in their levels of inequality. Research shows that high economic inequality harms social cohesion and intensifies political conflict. Although market forces such as globalization and technological change help explain rising inequality over the past four decades, political factors such as the power of wealthy organized interests also play a significant role. Comparing the United States with other developed democracies, as well as with non-democracies such as Russia and China, helps shed light on how political and economic forces are intertwined in producing inequality.
Thomas F. Remington is Visiting Professor of Government at Harvard University. He is Goodrich C. White Professor (Emeritus) of Political Science at Emory University and a Senior Research Associate of the International Center for the Study of Institutions and Development of the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia. He is author of a number of books and articles on Russian and postcommunist politics. Among his publications are Presidential Decrees in Russia: A Comparative Perspective(Cambridge University Press, 2014) and The Politics of Inequality in Russia (Cambridge University Press, 2011). He is currently conducting research on inequality and social policy in the United States, Russia and China.