ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Humanity's Struggle for a Better Life

The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press), 2013; pp xvi + 360, £19.95 (cloth).

The Great Escape recounts how the world has progressed from poverty to well-being, from short to long lives, and from poor health to good health, roughly between the mid-18th century and the present. These great advancements that completely transformed human society did not happen at the same speed everywhere, so that the story told here is necessarily a story of widening inequality as well. Furthermore, through much of the 20th century, countries have become more unequal in terms of income and less unequal in terms of health. The book is also about this paradox.

Few economists are more qualified to tell this story than Angus Deaton. One of the world’s leading contributors to the theory of consumer demand, Deaton has also written important works on poverty, health, and the statistical measurement of standards of living. He is an authority on the Indian poverty debate, and has collaborated with a number of Indian research institutes for many years. As one would expect, the book uses Indian evidence extensively. This should add to its appeal for many readers of this journal. But its real strength is elsewhere.

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