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Democracy and Income In-Equality: An Empirical Analysis

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Author Info

  • Mark Gradstein
  • Branko Milanovic
  • Yvonne Ying

Abstract

While standard political economy theories suggest a moderating effect of democratization on income inequality, empirical literature has failed to uncover any such robust relationship. Here we take yet another look at this issue arguing first, that prevailing ideology may be an important determinant of inequality and, second, that the democratization effect “works through” ideology. In societies where equality is highly valued there is less of a distributional conflict across income groups, hence democratization may have only a negligible effect on inequality. On the other hand, in societies where equality is not valued as much, democratization reduces inequality through redistribution as the poor outvote the rich. Our cross-country empirical analysis, covering the period 1960-98 and 126 countries, confirms the hypothesis: ideology – as proxied by a country’s dominant religion – seems to be related to inequality. But in addition, in Judeo-Christian societies increased democratization appears to lead to lower inequality, while in Muslim and Confucian societies democratization has only an insignificant effect on inequality. We hypothesize that in the latter group of countries, desired level of inequality is reached through informal transfers, while in Judeo-Christian societies where family ties are weaker, desired outcome is achieved by political action.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 411.

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Date of creation: 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_411

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Keywords: Inequality; democracy; religion;

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References

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  1. Hongyi Li & Lyn Squire & Tao Zhang & Heng-fu Zou, 1999. "A Data Set on Income Distribution," CEMA Working Papers 575, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  2. John Flemming & John Micklewright, 1999. "Income Distribution, Economic Systems and Transition," Innocenti Occasional Papers, Economic Policy Series iopeps99/69, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
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  4. Klaus Deininger & Lyn Squire, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," CEMA Working Papers 512, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  5. Atkinson,Anthony Barnes & Micklewright,John, 1992. "Economic Transformation in Eastern Europe and the Distribution of Income," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521433297, October.
  6. Milanovic, Branko, 2000. "The median-voter hypothesis, income inequality, and income redistribution: an empirical test with the required data," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 367-410, September.
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  12. Milanovic, Branko & DEC, 1994. "Determinants of cross-country income inequality : an augmented Kuznets hypothesis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1246, The World Bank.
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  18. Bisin, Alberto & Verdier, Thierry, 2000. "A model of cultural transmission, voting and political ideology," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 5-29, March.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Anneli Kaasa, 2005. "Factors Of Income Inequality And Their Influence Mechanisms: A Theoretical Overview," University of Tartu - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Working Paper Series 40, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu (Estonia).
  2. Shen, Yan & Yao, Yang, 2008. "Does grassroots democracy reduce income inequality in China?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2182-2198, October.
  3. Milanovic, Branko & Hoff, Karla & Horowitz, Shale, 2008. "Political alternation as a restraint on investing in influence : evidence from the post-communist transition," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4747, The World Bank.
  4. Rasha Hashim Osman & Constantinos Alexiou & Persefoni Tsaliki, 2012. "The role of institutions in economic development: Evidence from 27 Sub-Saharan African countries," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 39(2), pages 142-160, January.
  5. Muhammad, Shahbaz & Reza, Sherafatian-Jahromi & Muhammad, Nasir Malik, 2012. "Linkages between Defence Spending and Income Inequality in Iran," MPRA Paper 41983, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 14 Oct 2012.
  6. Kinda, Somlanare Romuald, 2011. "Democratic Institutions and Environmental Quality: Effects and Transmission Channels," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 46, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  7. Branko Milanovic, 2003. "Can We Discern The Effect Of Globalization On Income Distribution? Evidence From Household Surveys," HEW 0310002, EconWPA.
  8. Antonio Andres & Carlyn Ramlogan-Dobson, 2011. "Is Corruption Really Bad for Inequality? Evidence from Latin America," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(7), pages 959-976.
  9. Fabrizio Carmignani, 2007. "Efficiency of Institutions, Political Stability and Income Dynamics," The IUP Journal of Managerial Economics, IUP Publications, vol. 0(1), pages 6-30, February.
  10. Uwaifo Oyelere, Ruth, 2007. "Within and Between Gender Disparities in Income and Education Benefits from Democracy," IZA Discussion Papers 3221, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Hisako KAI & Shigeyuki HAMORI, 2009. "Globalization, Financial Depth, and Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa," Discussion Papers 0912, Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University.
  12. Lin, Eric S. & Ali, Hamid E., 2009. "Military Spending and Inequality: Panel Granger Causality Test," MPRA Paper 40159, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Martin Rama, 2002. "Mondialisation, inégalités et politiques de l'emploi," Revue d’économie du développement, De Boeck Université, vol. 16(1), pages 43-83.

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