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The Division of Labor, Inequality and Growth

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  • Fishman, Arthur
  • Simhon, Avi

Abstract

We present a model that links the division of labor and economic growth with the division of wealth in society. When capital market imperfections restrict the access of poor households to capital, the division of wealth affects individual incentives to invest in specialization. In turn, the division of labor determines the dynamics of the wealth distribution. A highly concentrated distribution of wealth leads to a low degree of specialization, low productivity, and low wages. In that case workers are unable to accumulate enough wealth to invest in specialization. Hence, in a highly unequal society, there is a vicious cycle in which the degree of specialization, productivity and wages stay low, wealth and income inequality stays high and the economy stagnates. By contrast, greater equality increases investment in specialization and leads to a greater division of labor and higher long run development. Copyright 2002 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Economic Growth.

Volume (Year): 7 (2002)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 117-36

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Handle: RePEc:kap:jecgro:v:7:y:2002:i:2:p:117-36

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=102931

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  1. Moav, Omer, 2002. "Income distribution and macroeconomics: the persistence of inequality in a convex technology framework," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 187-192, April.
  2. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 1999. "From Physical to Human Capital Accumulation: Inequality in the Process of Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 2307, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Garcia-Penalosa, Cecilia & Aghion, Philippe & Caroli, Eve, 1999. "Inequality and Economic Growth: The Perspective of the New Growth Theories," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/10091, Paris Dauphine University.
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  6. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1994. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 299-322 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Marvin Goodfriend & John McDermott, 1994. "Early development," Working Paper 94-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  8. Atkeson, A. & Ogaki, M., 1991. "Wealth-Varying Intertemporal Elasticities of Substitution Evidence from Panel and Aggregate Data," RCER Working Papers 303, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  9. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1988. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," MPRA Paper 51644, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Sep 1989.
  10. Kelly, Morgan, 1997. "The Dynamics of Smithian Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 939-64, August.
  11. Romer, Paul M, 1987. "Growth Based on Increasing Returns Due to Specialization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 56-62, May.
  12. Barro, Robert J, 2000. " Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
  13. Menchik, Paul L & David, Martin, 1983. "Income Distribution, Lifetime Savings, and Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 672-90, September.
  14. 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.
  15. George J. Stigler, 1951. "The Division of Labor is Limited by the Extent of the Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59, pages 185.
  16. Tomes, Nigel, 1981. "The Family, Inheritance, and the Intergenerational Transmission of Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 928-58, October.
  17. Kelly, Morgan, 2001. " Linkages, Thresholds, and Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 39-53, March.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2004. "From Physical to Human Capital Accumulation: Inequality and the Process of Development," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(4), pages 1001-1026.
  2. WANG, Zuxiang & SMYTH, Russell & NG, Yew-Kwang, 2009. "A new ordered family of Lorenz curves with an application to measuring income inequality and poverty in rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 218-235, June.
  3. Grossmann, Volker, 2008. "Risky human capital investment, income distribution, and macroeconomic dynamics," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 19-42, March.
  4. Shekhar Aiyar & Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Omer Moav, 2008. "Technological progress and regress in pre-industrial times," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 125-144, June.
  5. Wan, Guanghua & Lu, Ming & Chen, Zhao, 2006. "The inequality-growth nexus in the short and long run: Empirical evidence from China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 654-667, December.
  6. Stark, Oded, 2005. "Status Aspirations, Wealth Inequality, and Economic Growth," Economics Series 166, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  7. Thomas Leoni & Wolfgang Pollan, 2003. "The Impact of Inequality on Economic Growth," WIFO Working Papers 211, WIFO.
  8. Ming Lu & Hong Gao, 2010. "When Globalization Meets Urbanization: Labor Market Reform, Income Inequality, and Economic Growth in the People’s Republic of China," Working Papers id:3095, eSocialSciences.
  9. Ayal Kimhi, 2004. "Growth, Inequality and Labor Markets in LDCs: A Survey," CESifo Working Paper Series 1281, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Fali Huang, 2007. "The Coevolution of Economic and Political Development from Monarchy to Democracy," Development Economics Working Papers 22448, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
  11. Phillips, Kerk L., 2010. "A Dynamic Model of Specialization and Market Development as Engines of Economic Growth," MPRA Paper 23500, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Muhammad Tariq MAJEED, 2010. "Inequality, Trade Openness And Economic Growth In Asia," Applied Econometrics and International Development, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 10(2).
  13. Raphael BAR-EL & Dafna SCHWARTZ, 2003. "Economic Growth, Inequality And Spatial Demographic Distribution: A Brazilian Case," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 18, pages 147-170.
  14. Oded Galor, 2009. "Inequality and Economic Development: An Overview," Working Papers 2009-3, Brown University, Department of Economics.

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