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Endogenous Inequality

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  • Matsuyama, Kiminori

Abstract

Does the market economy exacerbate inequality across households? In a capitalistic society, do the rich maintain a high level of wealth at the expense of the poor? Or would an accumulation of the wealth by the rich eventually trickle down to the poor and pull the latter out of poverty? This paper presents a theoretical framework, in which one can address these questions in a systematic way. The model focuses on the role of the credit market, which determines the joint evolution of the distribution of wealth and the interest rate. A complete characterization of the steady states is provided. Under some configurations of the parameter values, the model predicts an endogenous and permanent separation of the population into the rich and the poor, where the rich maintains a high level of wealth partially due to the presence of the poor. Under others, the model predicts the Kuznets curve, i.e. the wealth eventually trickles down from the rich to the poor, eliminating inequality in the long run. Copyright 2000 by The Review of Economic Studies Limited

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 67 (2000)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 743-59

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Handle: RePEc:bla:restud:v:67:y:2000:i:4:p:743-59

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  1. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1988. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," MPRA Paper 51644, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Sep 1989.
  2. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
  3. Bénabou, Roland, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1450, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Nobuhiro Kiyotaki & John Moore, 1995. "Credit Cycles," NBER Working Papers 5083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 1997. "A Theory of Trickle-Down Growth and Development," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(2), pages 151-72, April.
  6. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-98, April.
  7. Robert E. Lucas Jr. & Nancy L. Stokey, 1982. "Optimal Growth with Many Consumers," Discussion Papers 518, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  8. Piketty, Thomas, 1997. "The Dynamics of the Wealth Distribution and the Interest Rate with Credit Rationing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(2), pages 173-89, April.
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