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Finance and Income Inequality: Test of Alternative Theories

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  • George Clarke

    (Research Department of the World Bank)

  • Lixin Colin Xu

    (Research Department of the World Bank)

  • Heng-fu Zou

    (Research Department of the World Bank)

Abstract

Although theoretical models make distinct predictions about the relation between finance and income inequality, little empirical research has been conducted to compare their relative explanatory power. We examine the relation between financial intermediary development and income inequality in a panel data set of 91 countries for the period of 1960-95. Our results provide reasonably strong evidence that inequality decreases as economies develop their financial intermediaries, consistent with Galor and Zeira (1993) and Banerjee and Newman (1993). Moreover, consistent with the insight of Kuznets, the relation between the Gini coefficient and financial intermediary development depends on the sectoral structure of the economy: a larger modern sector is associated with a smaller drop in the Gini coefficient for the same level of financial intermediary development. However, there is no evidence of an inverted-U shaped relation between financial sector development and income inequality, as suggested by Greenwood and Jovanovic (1990). The results are robust to controlling for biases introduced by simultaneity.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics in its series CEMA Working Papers with number 493.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Policy Research Working Paper Series 2984, The World Bank.
Handle: RePEc:cuf:wpaper:493

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Web page: http://cema.cufe.edu.cn/
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Keywords: Income inequality; financial intermediary development; Kuznets curve;

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References

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  1. Ross Levine & Norman Loayza & Thorsten Beck, 2002. "Financial Intermediation and Growth: Causality and Causes," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series, in: Leonardo Hernández & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel & Norman Loayza (Series Editor) & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel (S (ed.), Banking, Financial Integration, and International Crises, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 2, pages 031-084 Central Bank of Chile.
  2. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "Law and Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1113-1155, December.
  3. Zvi Griliches & Jerry A. Hausman, 1984. "Errors in Variables in Panel Data," NBER Technical Working Papers 0037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. La Porta, Rafael & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. " Legal Determinants of External Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(3), pages 1131-50, July.
  5. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods And Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284, November.
  6. Hongyi Li & Lyn Squire & Heng-fu Zou, 1998. "Explaining International and Intertemporal Variations in Income Inequality," CEMA Working Papers 73, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  7. Easterly, William & Fischer, Stanley, 2001. "Inflation and the Poor," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 33(2), pages 160-78, May.
  8. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 565-91, September.
  9. 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.
  10. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1990. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Discussion Papers 911, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  11. Levine, Ross, 1999. "Law, Finance, and Economic Growth," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 8(1-2), pages 8-35, January.
  12. Beck, T.H.L. & Levine, R. & Loayza, N., 2000. "Finance and the sources of growth," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3125520, Tilburg University.
  13. Levine, Ross, 1996. "Financial development and economic growth : views and agenda," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1678, The World Bank.
  14. Hongyi Li & Lixin Colin Xu & Heng-fu Zou, 2000. "Corruption, Income Distribution, and Growth," CEMA Working Papers 472, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  15. Mattias Lundberg & Lyn Squire, 2003. "The simultaneous evolution of growth and inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(487), pages 326-344, 04.
  16. Rousseau, P. L. & Wachtel, P., 2000. "Equity markets and growth: Cross-country evidence on timing and outcomes, 1980-1995," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(12), pages 1933-1957, December.
  17. Thorsten Beck & Asli Demirgüç-Kunt & Ross Levine, 2000. "A New Database on the Structure and Development of the Financial Sector," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 14(3), pages 597-605, September.
  18. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1988. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," MPRA Paper 51644, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Sep 1989.
  19. Thorsten Beck & Asli Demirgüç-Kunt & Ross Levine, 2001. "Legal Theories of Financial Development," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(4), pages 483-501.
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