Is Inequality Harmful for Growth? Theory and Evidence
AbstractIs inequality harmful for growth? We suggest that it is. In a society where distributional conflict is important, political decisions are likely to produce economic policies that allow private individuals to appropriate less of the returns to activities which promote growth, such as the accumulation of capital and productive knowledge. In this paper we formulate a theoretical model that formally captures this idea. The model has a politico-economic equilibrium, which determines a sequence of growth rates depending on structural parameters, political institutions and initial conditions. We then confront the model's testable empirical implications with two sets of data. The first data set pools historical evidence - dating back to the mid-nineteenth century - from the US and eight European countries. A second data set contains post-war evidence from a broad cross-section of developed and less developed countries. In both samples we find a statistically significant and quantitatively important negative relation between inequality and growth. After a comprehensive sensitivity analysis, we conclude that our findings are not distorted by measurement error, reverse causation, hetroscedasticity or other econometric problems.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 581.
Date of creation: Sep 1991
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820
Other versions of this item:
- Torsten Persson and Guido Tabellini., 1991. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth? Theory and Evidence," Economics Working Papers 91-155, University of California at Berkeley.
- Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 1991. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth? Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 3599, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1991. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth? Theory and Evidence," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt00x7n68q, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
- E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
- H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Lindert, Peter H. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1985. "Growth, equality, and history," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 341-377, October.
- Greenwood, Jeremy & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1990.
"Financial Development, Growth, and the Distribution of Income,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 1076-1107, October.
- Jeremy Greenwood & Boyan Jovanovic, 1989. "Financial Development, Growth, and the Distribution of Income," NBER Working Papers 3189, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Greenwood, J. & Jovanovic, B., 1990. "Financial Development, Growth, And The Distribution Of Income," University of Western Ontario, The Centre for the Study of International Economic Relations Working Papers 9002, University of Western Ontario, The Centre for the Study of International Economic Relations.
- Greenwood, Jeremy & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1988. "Financial Development, Growth, And The Distribution Of Income," Working Papers 88-12, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
- Greenwood, J. & Jovanovic, B., 1988. "Financial Development, Growth, And The Distribution Of Income," RCER Working Papers 131, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
- Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1988.
"Income Distribution and Macroeconomics,"
51644, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Sep 1989.
- Roberts, Kevin W. S., 1977. "Voting over income tax schedules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 329-340, December.
- Terrones, M., 1990. "Influence Activities And Economic Growth," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9006, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
- Sergio Rebelo, 1999.
"Long Run Policy Analysis and Long Run Growth,"
Levine's Working Paper Archive
2114, David K. Levine.
- Robert J. Barro, 1991.
"Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries,"
NBER Working Papers
3120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
- Grandmont, Jean-Michel, 1978. "Intermediate Preferences and the Majority Rule," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(2), pages 317-30, March.
- Summers, Robert & Heston, Alan, 1988. "A New Set of International Comparisons of Real Product and Price Levels Estimates for 130 Countries, 1950-1985," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 34(1), pages 1-25, March.
- Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1991.
"Distributive Politics and Economic Growth,"
NBER Working Papers
3668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Romer, Thomas, 1975. "Individual welfare, majority voting, and the properties of a linear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 163-185, February.
- Alesina, Alberto & Tabellini, Guido, 1988. "Credibility and politics," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(2-3), pages 542-550, March.
- 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.
- Romer, Paul M, 1986.
"Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-37, October.
- Barro, Robert J & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1992.
"Public Finance in Models of Economic Growth,"
Review of Economic Studies,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(4), pages 645-61, October.
- Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1990. "Public Finance in Models of Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3362, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Barro, Robert J. & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1992. "Public Finance in Models of Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 630, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Sala-I-Martin, X. & Barro, R.J., 1991. "Public Finance in Models of Economic Growth," Papers 640, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
- Klepper, Steven & Leamer, Edward E, 1984. "Consistent Sets of Estimates for Regressions with Errors in All Variables," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 163-83, January.
- Romer, P.M., 1988. "Capital Accumulation In The Theory Of Long Run Growth," RCER Working Papers 123, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.