Within-Country Inequality and the Modern World-System: A Theoretical Reprise and Empirical First Step

Matthew C. Mahutga, Roy Kwon, Garrett Grainger


This article calls for a renewed investigation of the world-system positioninequality link. We begin by outlining two general types of causal mechanisms through which a countrys position in the world-system should impact the distribution of income within it. The first type impacts inequality indirectly by conditioning the developmental process, and call for conceptual and empirical models of inequality that account for the link between world-system position and economic development. The second type impacts inequality directly through processes that are more or less unobservable because they change over time or belie cross-nationally comparative indicators, and can thereby be captured by direct measurements of world-system position itself that stand in for varying or unobservable causal processes. We then analyze five measures of world-system position to identify which, if any, provides the most useful association with income inequality. Our findings suggest that the classic measure of Snyder and Kick (1979) provides the strongest association. We conclude by suggesting fruitful directions for future research.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2011.417


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Copyright (c) 2015 Matthew C. Mahutga, Roy Kwon, Garrett Grainger

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