Global inequality and underdevelopment are particularly contentious issues in contemporary world politics. In essence, they talk to issues which ask the following questions: what is the (global) North–South divide? How has it emerged, how is it reproduced, and what can be done about it? Has the recent era of ‘globalization’ eroded a North–South divide and promoted some forms of convergence, or at least poverty reduction, in the global order? This chapter examines these questions, and the last one in particular. Debate over the relationship between globalization, inequality and underdevelopment has been particularly contentious. On the one hand, there are relatively upbeat assessments concerning a shift towards convergence between rich and poor countries in the global economy. A variant on this argument suggests that while inequality in some forms may not have been reduced in recent years, what matters is the fact that global poverty has been reduced, and this has occurred because of the opportunities that globalization presents to developing countries. Not all states have necessarily taken advantage of these opportunities, but it is precisely in these states where rapid economic growth and poverty reduction have not occurred.
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