A groundbreaking new examination of global inequality, and how to fix it
‘There’s no understanding global inequality without understanding its history. In The Divide, Jason Hickel brilliantly lays it out, layer upon layer, until you are left reeling with the outrage of it all.’ - Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics
The richest eight people control more wealth than the poorest half of the world combined.
Today, 60 per cent of the world’s population lives on less than $5 a day.
Though global real GDP has nearly tripled since 1980, 1.1 billion more people are now living in poverty.
For decades we have been told a story: that development is working, that poverty is a natural phenomenon and will be eradicated through aid by 2030. But just because it is a comforting tale doesn’t make it true. Poor countries are poor because they are integrated into the global economic system on unequal terms, and aid only helps to hide this.
Drawing on pioneering research and years of first-hand experience, The Divide tracks the evolution of global inequality – from the expeditions of Christopher Columbus to the present day – offering revelatory answers to some of humanity’s greatest problems. It is a provocative, urgent and ultimately uplifting account of how the world works, and how it can change for the better.
About the Author
Jason Hickel is an anthropologist at the London School of Economics. Originally from Swaziland, he spent a number of years living with migrant workers in South Africa, studying patterns of exploitation and political resistance in the wake of apartheid. Alongside his ethnographic work, he writes about development, inequality, and global political economy, contributing regularly to the Guardian, Al Jazeera and other online outlets. His work has been funded by Fulbright-Hays Program, the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Charlotte Newcombe Foundation and the Leverhulme Trust. He lives in London.
"There's no understanding global inequality without understanding its history. In The Divide, Jason Hickel brilliantly lays it out, layer upon layer, until you are left reeling with the outrage of it all." -- Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics
"In this iconoclastic book, Jason Hickel shakes up the prevailing paradigm of "development" at its root. He not only exposes the fatal flaws in the standard model of development but also shows how the "development aid" given to the poor countries in order to promote that erroneous model is vastly outweighed by the resource transferred to the rich countries through an unfair global economic system. Many of the proposals that Hickel makes for institutional reform and intellectual re-framing may sound "mad", as he himself acknowledges, but history has taught us that mad ideas have the habit of becoming respectable over time. This book will radically change the way in which you understand the workings of the global economic system and the challenges faced by poor countries trying to advance within it." -- Ha-Joon Chang, University of Cambridge, author of 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism and Economics: The User's Guide
"This is a book that if our world is to have any chance of meeting the challenges of the 21st century, people need to read. It challenges so much received wisdom via a well-argued, flowing prose that guides you through economic history, international trade, colonialism, politics and power, and the limits to growth debate. In setting out the reality of global inequality and its tangled roots, Hickel, matador-like, destroys the statistical pivots used by official agencies and unpicks their portrayal of an optimistic account of the state of global poverty and inequality." * Open Democracy *
"With passion and panache, Jason Hickel tells a very different story of why poverty exists, what progress is, and who we are. The Divide is myth busting at its best. The West has controlled the rest through colonization, coups, trade and debt. Poor countries are made poor by this; but a dramatic change is coming." -- Danny Dorling, author of Inequality and the 1%
"Hickel masterfully weaves together the most radical currents in political and economic thought to plot the course of global development... I appreciated his ability to translate such a disorienting amount of complex information into a clear, compelling narrative. Hickel is one of the few academics taking responsibilities as a public intellectual seriously, willing to ask difficult questions that challenge and inform our political discourse." * Bright Green *