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Mass Consumption, Exclusion and Unemployment

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  • Foellmi, Reto
  • Zweimüller, Josef

Abstract

We introduce non-homothetic preferences into a general equilibrium model of monopolistic competition and explore the impact of income inequality on the medium-run macroeconomic equilibrium. We find that (i) a sufficiently high extent of inequality divides the economy into mass consumption sectors (where firms charge low prices and hire many workers) and exclusive sectors (where firms charge high prices and hire few workers). (ii) High inequality may lead to a situation of underemployment and that underemployment could be "Keynesian" in the sense that it cannot be cured by downward-flexible real wages. (iii) A redistribution of income from rich to poor (by means of progressive taxation) leads to higher employment and such a redistribution is Pareto-improving. (iv) An exogenous increase in (minimum) real wages have a cost effect (that lets firms reduce their employment) and a purchasing power effect (that creates an incentive for mass production and raises aggregate employment) with ambiguous net effects. (v) The economy may feature multiple equilibria where full-employment and unemployment equilibria co-exist.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5824.

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Date of creation: Sep 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5824

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Keywords: exclusion; income distribution; mark-ups; monopolistic competition;

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References

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  1. Dehez, Pierre, 1985. "Monopolistic equilibrium and involuntary unemployment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 160-165, June.
  2. Flam, Harry & Helpman, Elhanan, 1987. "Vertical Product Differentiation and North-South Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 810-22, December.
  3. Roland Benabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Working Papers 5658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Hart, Oliver, 1982. "A Model of Imperfect Competition with Keynesian Features," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(1), pages 109-38, February.
  5. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52, January.
  6. Devashish Mitra & Vitor Trindade, 2003. "Inequality and Trade," NBER Working Papers 10087, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Silvestre, J., 1988. "There May Be Unemployment When The Labor Market Is Competitive And The Output Market Is Not," Papers 316, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
  8. Kiminori Matsuyama, 1999. "The Rise of Mass Consumption Societies," Discussion Papers 1289, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. d'Aspremont, Claude & Dos Santos Ferreira, Rodolphe & Gerard-Varet, Louis-Andre, 1990. "On Monopolistic Competition and Involuntary Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(4), pages 895-919, November.
  10. Silvestre, J., 1991. "The Market-Power Foundations of Macroeconomic Policy," Papers 374, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
  11. Chol-Won Li., . "Inequality and Growth: A Schumpeterian Perspective," Working Papers 9609, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow, revised Feb 1998.
  12. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2004. "From Physical to Human Capital Accumulation: Inequality and the Process of Development," GE, Growth, Math methods 0410005, EconWPA.
  13. Reto Foellmi & Josef Zweimüller, . "Income Distribution and Demand-induced Innovations," IEW - Working Papers 212, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  14. Kiminori Matsuyama, 2000. "A Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods under Nonhomothetic Preferences: Demand Complementarities, Income Distribution, and North-South Trade," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1093-1120, December.
  15. Giuseppe Bertola, 1991. "Factor Shares and Savings in Endogenous Growth," NBER Working Papers 3851, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 64, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  17. Falkinger, Josef, 1994. "An Engelian model of growth and innovation with hierarchic consumer demand and unequal incomes," Ricerche Economiche, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 123-139, June.
  18. Reto Foellmi & Josef Zweimueller, . "Inequality, Market Power, and Product Diversity," IEW - Working Papers 145, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  19. Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1989. "Income Distribution, Market Size, and Industrialization," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(3), pages 537-64, August.
  20. Gilles Saint-Paul, 2006. "Distribution and Growth in an Economy with Limited Needs: Variable Markups and 'the End of Work'," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(511), pages 382-407, 04.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. David Lee & Emmanuel Saez, 2008. "Optimal Minimum Wage Policy in Competitive Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 14320, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lee, David & Saez, Emannuel, 2010. "Optimal Minimum Wage Policy in Competitive Labor Markets," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt07w2z7t6, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  3. Reto Foellmi & Josef Zweimüller, 2011. "Exclusive Goods and Formal-Sector Employment," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 242-72, January.
  4. Sascha O. Becker & Peter Egger, 2007. "Endogenous Product versus Process Innovation and a Firm’s Propensity to Export," CESifo Working Paper Series 1906, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Jochen Michaelis, 2013. "Und dann werfen wir den Computer an – Anmerkungen zur Methodik der DSGE-Modelle," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201323, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).

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