Globalization and inequality: Explaining American exceptionalism

Douglas S. Massey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Globalization creates pressure for greater inequality throughout the world, but these pressures are expressed more fully in the United States than in other developed nations. Although the distribution of US income before taxes is no more unequal than other nations, after taxes it is considerably less egalitarian. This occurs because of specific institutional arrangements that fail to redistribute income effectively and allow the pressures of globalization to be fully realized. These arrangements represent a shift from the past and were deliberately enacted over the past two decades with divergent consequences for those at the top and bottom of the socioeconomic hierarchy. The realignment of the US political economy can ultimately be traced to Americas legacy of racism. Once leaders in the Democratic party sought to include African Americans in the benefits of Roosevelts New Deal, support for economic populism evaporated in the middle and working classes. The advantage of the wealthy is further enhanced by a political system in which those with money are better able to have their interests served legislatively than the poor or working classes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-23
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Sociological Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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