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Chapter 13: The Great Levelling
CNBC.com | March 16, 2012 | 11:33 AM EDT

Zanny Minton Beddoes is the Economics editor of The Economist.

The gap between the world’s rich and poor will be far narrower in 2050. It will depend much less on where you live than on how educated you are.

IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY, the vast gap between rich and poor spawned political upheaval and social reform in many of the world’s big economies. America’s Progressive era brought a slew of policies, from trust-busting to the introduction of income and inheritance taxes, to prevent the Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller and other great fortunes of the Gilded Age from forming an entrenched elite. In Britain, Lloyd George’s government introduced an array of welfare reforms, from old-age pensions to unemployment insurance.

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