The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd


  • Gordon Anderson
Reference work entry


Polarization means the tendency of economic agents to form different groups and acquire identities that enhance differences from other groups. It is both cause and consequence of much economic behaviour. It has been employed, for example, in describing the diminution of the middle class in wage, income and wealth distributions, in studying growth and convergence issues, and in examining the plight of the poor. Although polarization is closely associated with trends in inequality, increased polarization can correspond to an increase, a reduction or no change in inequality.


Akerlof, G, Alienation Clubs Endogeneous growth Gini coefficient Identity Inequality Polarization 

JEL Classifications

D3 I3 
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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gordon Anderson
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